Indiscipline has no boundaries for the few

5th March 2004 at 00:00
As a teacher of 29 years' experience, I find Pamela Munn's comments in The TES Scotland of February 20 disturbing.

Your report of her remark that "moral panic about rising indiscipline is nothing new and mostly mistaken" suggests that the problem which exists in schools now is no more difficult than it has been in previous decades. In this statement, she is gravely wrong.

Indiscipline in the 1970s and 1980s meant pupils who talked in class, did not pay attention and ran in the corridors. Indiscipline in the new century means pupils who know that their actions will have no serious consequences and are prepared to test their boundaries.

Nowadays, pupils are openly defiant, show a flagrant disrespect for authority and, on occasion, are abusive and even violent. This is not "nothing new" and certainly not "mostly mistaken".

I, as an experienced and competent teacher, find Professor Munn's comments to be highly naive and extremely offensive. I certainly hold no hope for the Executive's inquiry into discipline if this is the person who's heading it.

As a profession, I believe we must continue to resist the Executive's implementation of social inclusion guidelines that seek to make working conditions more difficult for the well-behaved majority of pupils and teachers.

We must continue to resist allowing academics such as Professor Munn to dictate our working conditions, and make sweeping statements about our complaints.

At the end of the day, the profession is facing a crisis. The Executive must learn to admit that Scottish education will survive the abolition of their anti-exclusion policies, discipline tsars and Professor Munn. It will not survive without teachers.

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