In your own time - Bigotgate, fate, love and cow bells for stupid pupils

7th May 2010 at 01:00
Discussion on the forums spans politics, philosophy and an unusual classroom practice

Yesterday's general election dominated chats around the virtual kettle in the online staffroom. One talking point was Gordon Brown's gaffe last week in Rotherham, where he was caught on a radio microphone describing an elderly widow (pictured) as "bigoted" for expressing concerns about immigrants. But forum user Fincop was able to put an upbeat spin on the debacle: "There is a bright side - we now know he is not a closet racist."

Leaving the election aside (because we don't know the result at the time of going to press), another talking point was the court case of Peter Harvey, the Mansfield science teacher found not guilty of attempted murder.

In the months since it emerged that Mr Harvey had attacked a pupil with a dumbbell, dozens of teachers have posted sympathetic comments on the site. Although they did not condone his actions, many said they could understand why he would "lose it" after being deliberately goaded by pupils. "There but for the grace of God go any of us," noted Piltdownman.

Spikey_Pebbles said she had arrived in class last week to find her Year 13 pupils discussing the case. "They thought a dumbbell was a bell given to a pupil for being stupid," she said. "They described it to me as being like a cow bell. When I'd finished laughing I showed them a picture of a dumbbell."

When current affairs are exhausted, some discussions in the staffroom can plunge into the philosophical. One conundrum debated this week was: does fate exist?

Claire_in_Kent made a brave attempt at arguing in favour: "For me, it's helpful to try to find some meaning in things that happen rather than just accepting that life is random."

But the overwhelming consensus was, no. Anyone who believed that they were being guided towards a special destiny was a bit soft in the head.

"Try telling the child soldier in Angola: 'This happened to you for a reason. It will make you stronger'," grumped nati.

And then, into the staffroom burst a lovestruck lazybum. "I have to have him! I want to be hugged by him!" she cried. "Why can't I get over it? Seeing him everyday at work is torture!"

If lazybum was hoping for sincere advice, she had come to the wrong place.

"I suggest she throws herself at the man in question, declaring her feelings to the entire staff and student body," offered thirdtimelucky.

Doomzebra went further, proposing that she "wait for a whole-school assembly and then appear naked before him".

They were confronted by Bauble: "You are all very cruel. This is obviously a cry from the heart and all you lot can do is take the piss. My advice to lazybum is ... wait to see how he does in his GCSEs."

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