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What do they mean...

This sounds like something involving a portable lab behind the bike sheds.

Or visiting a very expensive shrink. All right, it's just a wish list, but in a roundabout way transactional analysis can be about both these things.

We are now into the jargon-rich world of behaviour, why it's there and what can be done about it.

In this world everything can be called something else: the first victim of transactional analysis is vocabulary. There is no need to talk of communication when one can refer to "transactions"; and doesn't Pupils With Social, Emotional And Behavioural Problems sound like a good meaty topic to write a paper about? Especially when you can shorten it to SEBP, just in case anyone knew what you were talking about.

Teachers, as always, have their own vocabulary for all this, which everybody understands but nobody can repeat in polite society. They also have strategies for dealing with them, but they can't be talked about anywhere at all, except possibly with a very expensive shrink, which teachers can't afford.

With the onset of transactional analysis, shrinks are effectively what teachers have to be. We have to take ghastly little monsters and, through systematic psychotherapy, bring about personal development, particularly through the use of appropriate communication - sorry, transactions. At the end of this process they will be model citizens with a thorough grasp of English, maths, physics and so on, with which we are going to inculcate them in the odd moments between massaging away their SEBPs.

Anyone for the bike sheds?

Tim Homfray

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