More to angst than hormones

9th March 2001 at 00:00
I AM surprised by the bewilderment engendered by the growing disaffection amongst adolescents, particularly boys.

Over the years there have been many voices expressing concern about the probable consequences of an inappropriate curriculum not tailored to the needs and aspirations of children.

Children with low levels of attainment in "traditional" subjects have been expected to follow a similar curriculum to their more academic peers. A Certificate of Achievement course in science included a requirement for Year 10 pupils to learn the theory of atomic structure. Teachers' protests about compulsory science of this nature fell on deaf ears.

Transfer to secondary school is not exciting for all children since it often involves transition from a community where they feel significant and valued to one where they are just nameless faces. Bad behaviour at least ensures someone will take notice of them.

"Raging hormones and physical change" are part of growing up. However, young people are bombarded with explicit sexual material from a variety of sources, and encouraged to be sexually active.

Bad behaviour is glmourised, parental authority undermined, and moral guidelines non-existent. Good male role models, particularly those displaying kindness with courage, are a rarity. There is little wonder that young people are confused and insecure.

Ted Wragg (TES, February 23) is right to call for changes in the curriculum and in staffing levels. Perhaps the organisation of the schools into more "personal" child-friendly environments could be considered.

There is a need to look at what has gone before too. Even in primary schools girls cope better with the sedentary, teacher-directed, pencil-and-paper and social, interactive styles of learning that are currently in vogue. Boredom, resentment, frustration and anger build up, boiling over particularly during adolescence though sometimes sooner.

I wonder how long it will be before politicians admit to the harm they have caused with their utilitarian approach to education? Perhaps when there are insufficient teachers and insufficient prisons to hold the growing numbers of angry young men.

Christine Lees

13 Islestone Court

Berwick-upon-Tweed Northumberland

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