The talking back is 'so taxing'

4th June 2004 at 01:00
An experienced teacher says: "Most of the recurrent indiscipline arises from relatively minor incidents which develop into major arguments, things like chewing gum and refusing to bin it, playing with piercings or even removing them (and complaining when told not to do so) or refusing to remove jackets when told. This will, of course, include arguments about what constitutes a jacket. Then there's writing graffiti on books or jotters, and shouting abuse at other pupils, usually of a personal nature such as 'Cross eyes' or 'Spotty' or of an insulting nature like 'Your ma's a bike!'

"There is a trend of total refusal to accept the authority of the teacher in minor matters, such as where a pupil should sit or which way he or she should be facing. This can get totally out of hand and result in comments like 'You cannae tell me what tae dae. I'll sit where I want.'

"Comments such as 'This class is crap' are increasingly common and reactions to referrals range from 'F*** sake, Man!' to 'So, refer me if you want. I don't care!'

"Requests for parents to sign behaviour cards often result in 'My Ma says she's no signing it. It's just rubbish anyway!'

"Pupils are increasingly getting away with having the last word, even if it's only a grunt. Just to prove a point.

"Corridor indiscipline is caused by pupils throwing things - rubbers, pens, chewing gum, plastic bottles - and also hitting others and swearing loudly.

"Although swearing directly at a teacher is uncommon, there is a feeling that swearing in class is acceptable, as it is natural and just 'slips out'.

"Major indiscipline is dealt with reasonably well, but incidents such as the above happen daily and can't be dealt with particularly effectively as they are so numerous. This is the case across Scotland in all large secondary schools, I think.

"It's this kind of indiscipline that is so taxing and is causing so much concern among staff."

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