The sins of the father are all too apparent

9th May 2008 at 01:00
He stalked the office like an axe murderer
He stalked the office like an axe murderer. Mr Crane is quite simply the most unpleasant man I have ever met. He smells like an old ashtray, and unpleasant tattoos circle his neck. He stares at you coldly, with hostility. He was here because of his son Dale, similarly unpleasant and consumed by contempt for others.

Mr Crane lives on the fringes of society, and school represents an official world that must be defeated. The purpose of school isn't to liberate his son or to open doors. It is there as an act of repression, and it must always be resisted. And, once again, we are repressing his son.

We have many battles with him. He does realise that Dale is very difficult, but he doesn't much care. When he gets into trouble with the police, then that is very different. School is irrelevant.

Today, he obviously has better things to do with himself. "I deal with my own kids. When they need it, I punch them in the mouth, OK?" he bellows.

We tell him that it is not OK and we have a duty to report him to social services and the police.

He glares blackly.

On this occasion, Dale was chasing around the classroom during a history lesson and knocked into his teacher, who is heavily pregnant.

Apparently it was her fault. What's wrong with her? Why didn't she get out of the way? A pregnant woman shouldn't be in school, and if she can't manage the normal stuff that goes on in the classroom, then she shouldn't be teaching anyway.

The logic was bizarre and twisted. Does that mean chasing another boy round the room while trying to hit him with a ruler is perfectly acceptable? What else could Dale do when the boy insulted his football team?

To use logic or reason seemed to be a total waste of time, but we tried anyway. It is what we are supposed to do.

Mr Crane listened with a sneer as we talked about responsibility and respect. What was her problem? Couldn't she see him coming? It would be laughable really, if it wasn't so tragic.

I tell Mr Crane that I shall be forced to follow procedures and refer the incident to the governing body. He laughs.

"Who are these scum?" he asks.

It is only when I tell him that this can lead to a permanent exclusion that he takes any notice.

School is a convenient place to park his troublesome son for a while. He stares at me longer than is necessary. I am compelled to hold his gaze.

He agrees to speak to Dale at home. He agrees to the detention he had previously refused. He looks at us all very deliberately and coldly, and then leaves.

He appears in my life sporadically, but Mr Crane isn't my problem. He has no impact upon me, but he has a huge impact upon the life of his son. And I doubt very much that Dale can be rescued.

John Sutton is a pseudonym. He teaches in North Wales.

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