"What is the truth about pupil violence?"

28th October 2005 at 01:00
A familiar refrain rang out in The TES Scotland of October 31, 1975, as Thomas Harvey, depute rector of Lanark Grammar, asked: "What is the truth about pupil violence?": (Psychiatrists) tell us that aggression is a response to threat and frustration, but that if this aggressive response is blocked, through fear of punishment for example, it goes underground and becomes sullenness and resentment. The familiar moral exhortation that is trotted out on such occasions does little to help.

Early humiliations have a similar effect (and some teachers have a genius for the humiliating approach). The lesson here would seem clear: we avoid needless threats, humiliations and situations that set up frustrations . .

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But part of our difficulty springs from the fact that, in family after family, both parents are out at work - unless during a period of recession; and only teachers seem open to criticism for failing to clear up the difficulties that society blindly and selfishly creates.

Who is going to give the care and personal attention that parents give? It is the story of the mammoth school all over again; it is nobody's business to see the whole issue. Everybody, in concentrating on his own little remit, makes a merit out of myopia.

When people badger you about pupil violence and about youngsters using four-letter words, point out that you do not teach this kind of language .

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Ask also if the violent pupils become saints at four o'clock, and if they do not, who is going to do something about it?"

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