Taming the jungle

27th October 2000 at 01:00
IT seems to me that we go to great lengths to promote social harmony through personal and social education lessons and positive behaviour and anti-bullying policies but fail to provide an environment in which attitudes of toleration and co-operation can be explored and practised.

The environment of the normal class is controlled by the teacher who does her best to quell anti-social behaviour. The environment of the corridors, staircases, playgrounds and streets is more or less uncontrolled, with behaviour ruled by the laws of the jungle. There is almost no provision of leisure activities and community work carried out in social accommodation ad managed by the pupils themselves under the guidance of a member of staff.

May I make three suggestions? One, the projected fall in school population (alas not in Edinburgh) (TESS, October 20) presents an opportunity to turn spare classrooms into common rooms. Two, the practice of paying staff for extra-curricular activities sets a precedent for paying teaching staff to oversee pupil-managed clubs and societies devoted to leisure and community service. Three, that sort of environment, halfway between class and jungle, would allow pupils to explore and practise what we want them to learn.

David Hill

Relugas Road, Edinburgh

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