No laughing matter

25th July 2008 at 01:00

Word reaches us of a young education psychologist who had been struggling to convey the concept of empathy to a challenging group of teenage boys in the west of Scotland. Her first attempt was a dismal failure. "Imagine you are in the playground and you see someone in your class fall over and hurt himself. What would you do?"

"Laugh!" they sniggered.

Attempt number two was more successful, once she had tapped into something they really cared about - fitba. "OK, imagine you're watching your favourite football team and one of your favourite players accidentally scores an own goal," she ventured.

One boy summed up the overwhelming sentiment: "Aw miss! Ah'd feel pure sorry for the guy!"

Cardboard cut-out

As Matt MacIver prepares to demit office as chief executive of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, we can reveal that he has clearly missed a trick. How could he have ignored a "containment schema"?

His counterpart in England's GTC, Keith Bartley, is no such slouch. He wants his council to be a "cardboard box" for teachers, reminding an audience of young teachers recently that "small children love to climb inside a big cardboard box and explore the world from there - you build confidence from a safe, confined space and then move out into the world". Apparently, the professional description for this phenomenon is "containment schema". Bravely, he continued: "We at the GTC would like to be your cardboard box - your containment schema."

We are almost lost for words.

All aboard

There is no knowing what interests an MSP will champion. Step forward Jamie McGrigor, the Conservative member for the Highlands and Islands, who wanted to know what action the Government was taking "to increase participation in rowing among young people". We should make it clear that this was a sporting question, and nothing to do with creating a rammy. That's a parliamentary privilege.

Frank exchange

"In May, I had a very interesting meeting with Frank Crawford, a chief inspector." Thus began a riveting account of a brief encounter involving Maureen Laing, senior professional officer in Scotland for Voice - that sterling body formerly known as the Professional Association of Teachers.

By far the most interesting revelation (surely not apocryphal) was from the 1970s when an inspector contacted a Glasgow secondary to warn of an impending inspection. "Don't bother coming," said the heidie, "we're winding down for the summer."

The union's journal observed: "This was in February. Those were the days."

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