Children and Society: Cause and Effect

Some people on Facebook seemed surprised recently at my willingness to return to what has now become the Obamanation. Though this is not possible for a number of reasons, the newspapers continue to be filled with good reasons flee. I continue to marvel at the British Government’s lack of ability to discern the relationship between cause and effect, instead destroying the remnants of this society, completely baffled by both.

Side by side today in the Mail Online, were a stories about a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old. The older boy shot a teacher in the face with a pellet gun at Beal High School in Ilford, Essex. He got a 15-day suspension. His friends who helped conceal the gun after the incident got shorter suspensions. The teacher was lucky to have been hit between the eyes and not in one of them.

While I agree with the spokeman from the National Union of Teachers that children who use violence against teachers should be expelled rather than suspended, this is the same union that wants all faith schools in the country to be stripped of everything that makes them unique, better performing, and over-subscribed.

The 8-year-old refused to get ready for school on morning. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to go to school, but just because he got up late and was not doing as he was told. His mother smacked him with a hairbrush. A teacher found out. The mother was charged with assault and the boy taken into care by Somerset County Council. She now gets to see him for two hours a week. His long-term future will be determined when she is sentenced later this month.

The court will have to hear from social services whether they think the mother has been re-educated sufficiently to know that even though the law allows for “reasonable chastisement”, social workers are ultimately the interpreters of this language. If they like you, you get your child back. If they don’t, they can (and will, from countless stories in the press) permanently sever the parental relationship. Once an appeals court finally says that bureaucrats have over-stepped the mark, they may also say that unfortunately it’s too late for parents to have their children back.

Parents can’t discipline their children and schools are faced with increasing numbers of children who cannot be controlled at home and no power to control them at school.

Seven

It was seven years ago right now that I was in the operating suite of the local county hospital. After 52 hours of labour and an emergency c-section, I was holding my first-born and showing him to my exhausted wife.

When he was first extracted from the womb, he wasn’t looking to good and the paediatrician had to be called up to work on him. Those were nervous minutes as I paced back and forth between the operating table and the table where they were encouraging him to breathe. Soon enough all was well and I carried him in swaddling clothes to meet his mother. While they continued to sew her up, I took him downstairs to the nursery and put his first proper clothes on him and took the first pictures.

He seems all grown up now. He’s into Star Wars and Doctor Who and Bakugan. He’s already getting books as presents that are for him to read, not to be read to him.  He has more growing to do, and may God grant him many years.

Not As Easy As It Looks

At our house we’ve already started ballet, karate and Scouts. The next logical step is musical instruments.

The Older Child has been on about learning to play the guitar for some time. He was even looking into taking lessons at school. While the former seemed plausible, the latter is ridiculous, given that the Older Child’s father has been playing guitar for almost 29 years and has taught guitar for almost as long, including teaching children not much older than the Older Child.

Because my acoustic guitar is way too big for the Child to use, we considered repairing a 3/4 size guitar belonging to the Unnamed Woman. It ony needed a bridge, nut, strings, and perhaps a few other bits and bobs, plus I’m not sure the tuning mechanism even holds. And it’s still a bit big for his hands. Or we could buy a new one. We took the Woman’s guitar to a repair shop to get an estimate for bringing it into working order. It was only £15 more to get a new half-size guitar.

We went with the latter option. He had money from his grandfather and at least he was putting some of it into something of more value than most of the toys he buys.

The Older Child was under the same impression about guitar playing that I was about snow skiing when I was 5. You just put on the skis and away you go, right? As soon as he got the guitar, he did the musical equivalent of standing still in the snow. He wanted to play a song and the Woman wanted me to buy him a guitar book.

After explaining how the strings and frets are numbered for reference, he tried his first chord. E minor. I always start with E minor because it is the simplest. The finger positioning wasn’t a problem for the Child. Pressing down with his fingertips and not touching anywhere else on the neck of the guitar was another matter. He had no idea that guitar playing involves pain.

His enthusiasm began to wain a bit. He finally began to understand that he will not be playing “Johnny B. Goode” like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future any time soon.

This morning he was strumming on his guitar again, playng a muted E minor. I hope he has the interest to follow through, even with the pain in the fingers. He is starting 10 years earlier than I did. I hope one day he is better than me.

What the Government Has Planned for Your Daughter

Next week all the 12-year-old girls at my school will get their vaccinations against the virus that causes many cases of cervical cancer. The injection is given to 12-year-olds because it is only effective if taken before a girl becomes sexually active. It will be too late for some of the girls.

The Government now has another plan for 12-year-olds. Under legislation to be considered in Parliament this week, they will be given pills for do-it-yourself home abortions. As long as their unborn child is less that 19 weeks old, they will get the abortifacients without their parents ever knowing.

They will have to be a little creative, obviously. At 19 weeks, the baby is about 7 inches long and weighs about 2/3 of a pound. That’s a lot to flush down the toilet. It’s probably the sort of thing that will require sneaking some sort of small plastic bag upstairs and then slipping out to the bins. Best to plan the abortion near to collection day, so the decomposing flesh doesn’t alert mum and dad. It would be especially nasty to have a dog get into the bin and drag the corpse around the garden.

Then there’s all the blood and related gloop associated with expelling what Dr Evan Harris, MP always prefers to call the “products of conception”. But I guess mum will just think her darling daughter is having an unusally heavy period.

And this will bring abortion to Northern Ireland, which until now, like the counties to the south, has prohibited it.

Leftovers

Reading about Elizabeth’s tooth reminded me of information I got from the Unnamed Woman over dinner yesterday.

She took the Older Child to the dentist because a filling had fallen out, whereupon it was discovered that he had a (fortunately painless) abscess under the tooth. The dentist is always quite snooty to the Unnamed Woman and always feels she has to remind the Woman what sort of foods are dentally appropriate for our children. The Unnamed Woman, being rather intelligent and healthy food conscious, never fails to take a bit of offence at this condescension.

Remarkably, the Ms Dentist was subdued. It turns out that the abscess was due to the dentist leaving something behind in Older Child’s mouth at the last appointment. The Unnamed Woman was a little pleased to see to the dentist bumped down a peg.

Little Ladettes

Two articles in the Daily Mail today reminded me of a conversation in a lesson yesterday, where some pupils were just incredulous that I only drink alcohol occasionally and never with the intention of getting drunk.

The first article, by Sarah Lyall, a correspondent for the New York Times and recent author of an ex-pat view of the British, asks in the headline ‘Why are you Brits such DRUNKS?‘. The answer could be related the title of the second article, “Mum branded a ‘disgrace’ after she buys 13-year-old daughter stash of alcohol to take on school charity walk“.

But the problem is that I talk to 13-year-olds every day, including yesterday, for whom getting drunk is regular behaviour. These are not down-and-out rough-and-tumble council estate kids with no hope. These are middle class kids from tidy homes. They can’t imagine being able to socialise or have fun without alcohol. The kids yesterday attributed my lack of regular drunkness to my wild religious fanaticism, you know, the fact that I believe in God.

But neither yesterday’s children nor my present school stand out particularly. At my last school, 14-year-olds regularly talked about going out and getting drunk. And it was not like they were sneaking out of the house to do it. Their parents preferred to know where they were, even if it was stumbling down the streets throwing up or urinating in alleyways, behaviour that was also well-known by their fellow pupils.

And I have seen it myself. My favourite kebab shop is for obvious reason right in the middle of the drinking establishments in our fair city. Any time from 8:00pm on, teenagers, usually wearing the slightest amount of fabric that could called clothes, and shouting the foulest language, wander up and down the lanes in drunken packs.

The one thing they all of these pupils have in common is that they were girls. It’s not that boys aren’t doing the same thing. Rather it seems to be the new expression of feminism – working very hard to equal, and now it seems outdo, the men. And if they are drinking like this in their early teens, think of what they will be like in a few years.

Experiencing Death

There was more wailing than at a Arab funeral. The Unnamed Children lost their first pet. Then they lost another. Then another. And another. All in one day.

It all started when the Unnamed Woman decided that Bubbles the goldfish needed friends. Bubbles belongs to the Older Child, who had become a bit selfish with him/her (Bubble’s gender is unknown). He didn’t even like the Younger Child participating in feeding Bubbles. Bubbles was moved downstairs and the Woman and Children bought another goldfish, Mr Mustachio, and some minnows and danios. Mr Mustachio was originally going to be call Monsieur Poisson, but that never caught on. His little black mustache was just too distinctive.

All seemed well until yesterday, when we bought a loach to clean the tank. Within hours, four of our little fish were dead. Then the loach died. Fortunately, the pet store that sold the little fish has a five-day guarrantee. The loach people weren’t so accommodating, which was especially irritating given that the available circumstantial evidence seems to focus on their fish as someone responsible for the death of the others.

The shock of death seemed to have worn off by this morning. When the Children got up, another little fish (I couldn’t tell you which kind, as I can’t really tell the minnows from the danios) was dead on the gravel. They took it matter of factly and the Younger Child declared, “Everyone dies eventually.”

The Unnamed Woman didn’t get any more little fish for now. Instead, she got another goldfish. The person at the pet shop said it was better to keep goldfish with goldfish. So now we have Goldie Lookin Fish.

Instead of the joys of watching the fish swim around in their tank, it is more like deathwatch. Will the last two little fish survive? Will the goldfish prove stronger than whatever killed the others?  The suspense continues.

Indescriminate Baptism

I like Charlotte Church. I bear her no personal animosity in any way. I just thought I ought to say that before I continue.

Charlotte and her boyfriend Gavin Henson had their daughter Ruby baptised today. Their other child was present in utero. When I first saw the headline in the news, I assumed that the baptism was in a building belonging to the Church in Wales – the Welsh component of the Anglican Communion. After all, Anglicans take a wide range of views on the propriety of certain types of relationships. If they are willing to marry gay couples in London, it does not seems unreasonable to suppose they might baptise the child born out of wedlock to two people living very openly (as celebrities do) in fornication.

But no, it was a Roman Catholic church with, one must presume, a Roman Catholic priest, using, again one must presume, a Roman Catholic rite of baptism. In 1980, Pope John Paul II approved of the “Instruction on Infant Baptism” promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It specifically addresses the Dialogue Between Pastors and Families With Little Faith or Non-Christian Families:

In fact the Church can only accede to the desire of these parents if they give an assurance that, once the child is baptized, it will be given the benefit of the Christian upbringing required by the sacrament. The Church must have a well-founded hope that the Baptism will bear fruit.

How can the Church have assurance that the child will have a Christian upbringing when the parents have no regard for the sacrament of marriage? I have no problem with the baptism of children born out of wedlock, if their parents have subsequently gotten married. Otherwise, how can the parents acknowledge at the font their duty to raise the child to keep God’s commandments?

Charlotte wants to have six children by the time she is 32. She has not indicated when, along the way, she plans to enter into the sacrament of marriage. But like I said, my problem isn’t with Charlotte. She is living in perfect harmony with the spirit of the age and that is the life she has chosen.

My problem is with a church possessing valid sacraments demonstrating a very unguarded approach to their administration and sending a message that the church has given up on the exclusivity of marriage as the valid relationships within which to engage in sexual relationship and raise children.

Banning Father’s Day

I was just going to write about how thousands of primary school children in Scotland were banned from making Father’s Day cards this year. Then I found out that the same thing happened at the school of an Unnamed Child in the heart of England. It’s probably even more widespread.

This has been done, as they said in Scotland, “in the interests of sensitivity” because of the growing number of single-parent households and children living with a mother and her lesbian partner. I’m hoping there’s none of the latter at the Unnamed Child’s school, as it is in direct violation of the dogma of the Church that runs the school.

Let’s set aside for a moment the children living in Gomorrah situations, as these are thankfully still less than normative. The sensitivity is really over the fact that 25% of children live with a single parent. They don’t want to make the children uncomfortable if they don’t have a father. And herein lies the specious reasoning.

Everyone has a father. I know that science and the Labour government are working to change that, but for now – and certainly for any child of school age – it took a sperm and an egg. Some children may have lost their father through death. This is a terrible thing, but this has always been the case and Father’s Day has never been cancelled because of it.

It is true that there are in increasing number of children who don’t know their father. This may be because their mother doesn’t know who the father is. Or it may be because the father has been marginalised. I know of more than a few cases whether the mother has simply cut the father out of the child’s life.

In most cases, however, the child knows who the father is and even has some sort of relationship with the father, even if his is not resident in the same home. It’s these father’s who get cut out of Father’s Day. As Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice, said: “I’m astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not. It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), said: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

An Unnamed Woman often suggests that rant too often about the “ought” instead accepting the “is”. (That is my terminology, not hers.) I was once told that I will never be successful unless I give up my pre-modern principles and accept the the ways of the modern world.  Perhaps this is true. But despite the 25% of families with a single resident parent, there are still 75% who have both parents resident. There are still most of the 25% who have a dad somewhere.

Most of all, there is still a need to remember that fathers are just as important as mothers.

Outside

It was quite a beautiful June day here in Merry Ol’. I spent the morning with the children while the Unnamed Woman was a bit poorly in bed. I marked exams in the sunshine while they played in the garden.

They ran in and out of the house several times, and then they ran in and never appeared. Despite the weather, the draw of the TV became too much. There was much complaining when I turned off the cartoons and ushered them toward the door.

The younger child protested, “I’m boring outside!”

For Love or Money

In the wake of Parliament declaring that children do not need fathers and that the need for a father cannot be taken into account when someone gets IVF treatment, the Daily Mail has exposed the truth behind Tracy Lagondino (or “Thomas Beatie”, as she prefers) and the “man having a baby” story. Seems it’s mostly about militant gay rights and lots of money.

Wow. There’s a big surprise.

They have a book coming out. (“Nancy and Thomas declined to be interviewed because, Nancy told me: ‘We’ve got a book coming out in September and we want to have stuff left to say so people buy the book.’ “) They have a deal with a picture agency and a contract with People magazine.  They say they weren’t paid for all of exposure on Oprah.

They became well-known campaigners for gay marriage and other gay rights, and once walked through the streets carrying a coffin bearing the names of ‘hate crime’ victims persecuted for their sexuality.

In 2000, Tracy and Nancy, both avid body-builders, posed in their bikinis for a gay magazine called Odyssey.

Well before Tracy got pregnant, they called their screen printing business “Define Normal”.

Parliament was concerned about the creation of human-animal hybrids. Those aren’t the only worrying sort of hybrids.

When he had surgery to become a man, he had his breasts removed and was given testosterone to make him look and sound like a man, but he chose to keep his female reproductive organs.

So Beatie is really a man/woman hybrid. Call him a freak, if you like.

The Price of Honour

Rand Abdel-Qader

This is the face of Islam. She’s dead. Daddy did it.

Rand Abdel-Qader was 17. She had a crush on a British soldier. She met him when she was a volunteer on a project. There was no actual relationship between the two of them. She hadn’t even seen him since January, but her dad found out in mid-March that she had been seen talking to him. One of her friends told him.

No doubt feeling fatherly concern, he asked her if it was true that she had met the soldier. Then, as fathers do (at least in certain cultures that are, of course, equal to all other cultures) he began to beat her savagely. But sometimes a good beating just isn’t enough.

With the help of her brothers (like father, like sons) he held her down with his foot on her throat until she stopped breathing. What a nice daddy. He didn’t want her to feel the pain as he then began to cut at her body with a knife. It’s hard to say what actually killed her – whether it was being stamped on, suffocated, or stabbed repeatedly all over her body.

And it’s not like there was a post-mortem. She was wrapped up and tossed in a grave without any mourning, because she had brought shame on the family. It was a family funeral. Her uncles showed up to spit on her body before it was covered with dirt.

Daddy was arrested. He was released after two hours because it was an honour killing. Sgt Ali Jabbar of Basra police said: “Not much can be done when we have an ‘honour killing’. You are in a Muslim society and women should live under religious laws.”

It would be terrible enough if this were an exceptional story. The only reason it is news is because it is the first case known to involve a British soldier in Iraq (if “involve” is even the right word). There were 47 honour killings just in Basra last year. That’s 47 other girls, just like Rand, just in one city, just in one year.

Fostering: Christians Need Not Apply

Some of you may remember the story of Pauline and Vincent Matherick, the Somerset couple who had fostered 28 children and were being pushed into promoting homosexuality. The foster son they had at the time was removed from them when they refused. After a national uproar, they were able to come to an agreement with Somerset County Council officials and were able to register again as foster carers.

It’s not like Somerset doesn’t need foster parents. As reported in the Daily Mail, the Council’s website says “that foster parents can be gay, disabled, on benefits, have a criminal record, be of any age, religion and gender, and be married or single”. This is true. I checked the website for myself. They keep the criminal record bit in the FAQs.

The thing they don’t need is people who ever spank their children for any reason. David and Heather Bowen don’t fit many of Somerset’s usual criteria. They are married, heterosexual, physically fit, and make their own living. He’s a chartered surveyor who volunteers as a school governor. She’s a special needs adviser. But, oops, they’re Christians. Go to church every Sunday and all that. Both involved in the children’s ministry. They admit that their beliefs mean that they occasionally spank their daughter as a last resort.

They never suggested they would spank children who belong to the State. They wouldn’t take the idea of being a foster parents that literally. But never mind. Clearly they are not the sort of people who support the ethos of the Somerset County Council and failed liberal parenting ideas rooted in an atheistic anthropology.

It would seem that Somerset doesn’t have enough listless hoodlums and slappers roaming its streets and schools. Given that they subscribe to a philosophy of mollycoddling children, that’s what they must be wanting. Of course this only results in more children that must be taken in by the State to prevent them from serious harm, and a need for more foster parents. Sounds like a downward spiral that, despite how bad things already are, is only just getting started.

Notes from Hell

My most read post of the last month (and the third most read this year) was about Susan Pope, the school nurse at Malvern St James who was sacked for smacking her son once on the bottom for repeatedly swearing at her.

Today Mrs Pope has her own say, in a article she wrote for the Mail on Sunday. If you want an inside story on dealing with bureaucrats and police in the face of often bizarre accusations, you must read this. It has been nearly a year since her ordeal began and it is not over yet. Social Services are still infesting the lives of Mrs Pope and her husband, because the Popes won’t back down. Social Services have acted illegally repeatedly and gotten away with it. It is a story of abuse: a harrowing tale of governmental abuse of innocent people.

Social Services are helping to spread the cancer of family breakdown identified by Sir Paul Coleridge, the senior family court judge, as I mentioned yesterday. Sir Paul was not just concerned about marriages falling apart, but about the meltdown of parent-child relationships. Sir Paul’s views made not just the front page headline of the Daily Mail, but also the Daily Telegraph and the The Times. The case of the Popes just hightlights how Social Services can apply the blowtorch of aggressive incompetence to these relationships. Not all families are made of the same mettle. (As a side note, Al Gore will not be happy to know that Sir Paul thinks the breakdown of the family is worse than global warming.)

Mrs Pope mentions the subject of another popular post, former school bursar Denis Smith. It appears he was more involved in Mrs Smith’s sacking than previously suggested, whilst at the same time his own departure from the school was less honourable than reported.

Family Matters

The most senior family court judge in southwest England has diagnosed the cause of the almost every evil in society today. Sir Paul Coleridge blames pretty much everything on the breakdown of the family, which he labels a cancer.

Though he is certainly an expert on these matters, this is not something that requires such a specialist to diagnose. But even though he is stating the obvious, it is something that the Government, with it’s family unfriendly policies, is ignoring. It is not just no-fault divorce. Mr Justice Coleridge includes the “meltdown” of the parent/child relations as well.

So you combine no-fault divorce with all-fault discipline (given the restrictions imposed by the law, compounded with the tendency to assume any discipline exceeds those restrictions) and you have a recipe for disaster. Disaster is certainly what we have in this country. Disaster is what we see every day in schools – with a combination of kids who can’t draw their family tree and as they are shifted throughout the week from one parent to another, or sometimes a relative, or a former partner of a parent, with no consistent structure in their life.

If that’s what it’s like in relatively sedate rural areas, think about what other educators face each day in the more urban environments. Several years ago I taught in a city of about 70,000. I was talking to a head of year who was sending out congratulatory letters to parents of children who were performing above expectations in at least five subjects and also letters to parents of children for whom significant concerns had been raised in at least five subjects. As he was looking through the envelopes, he noticed that all of the former were sent to “Mr and Mrs” and all of the latter were sent to single parents or adults of two difference surnames.

This echoes Sir Paul’s statement, “I am not saying every broken family produces dysfunctional children but I am saying that almost every dysfunctional child is the product of a broken family.”

Family Values

15-year-old Brendan Harris and 16-year-old Ryan Herbert are killers. They so brutally killed a 20-year-old girl that emergency services could not tell whether she was male or female. Her boyfriend was left for dead, but eventually came out of his coma. Harris and Herbert brutally attacked Robert Maltby and murdered Sophie Lancaster because they looked different. As reported in the Daily Mail:

Someone was heard to shout “let’s bang him” and the Harris started the orgy of violence with a flying kick to [Maltby’s] head.

The gang, described in court as “acting like a pack of wild animals”, then punched, jumped and stamped on his head until he was unconscious.

Miss Lancaster cried for them to stop as she cradled her boyfriend’s head on her lap.

Her plea went unheeded as Herbert delivered a volley kick to her face, with Harris joining in to kick and stamp on her head as she lay on the ground.

When paramedics arrived and found the couple lying side by side covered in blood, they could not tell what sex she was such was the severity of the injuries to her face.

The pattern of some footwear was still on her head. Both fell into comas but Miss Lancaster never regained consciousness and died in hospital 13 days later.

But of all of the information I read about this horrible case, the most disturbing was, “Police also revealed today that both the boys and their parents had laughed and joked throughout the court case.” On camera on the BBC Six O’Clock New the police talked about how both Brendan and his mother laughed when he was being questioned during the investigation.

Is it any surprise that these scum of the earth have no conscience? Scum breeds scum.

I am reminded of something I saw recently in my discovery of the parts of the Bible I’m just now reading:

Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
Nor rejoice in ungodly sons.
If they multiply, do not rejoice over them
If the fear of the Lord is not in them.
Do not trust in their life
Nor pay attention to their multitude;
For one godly child is better than a thousand.
And it is better to die childless than to have ungodly children.
For from one child with wisdom a city will be filled with people,
But a tribe of lawless men will make it desolate.

Sirach 16:1-4

A Real Disgrace

For the glory of a man is from the honor of his father,
And it is a disgrace for children to dishonor their mother.

Wisdom of Sirach 3:11

The truth of this verse was made evident by the elder son of Susan Pope. Mrs Pope was until recently the senior nurse at one of the most prestigious private girls schools in the country, Malvern St James. She was sacked for gross misconduct.

However, as has become increasingly common in this country, she was not sacked for anything she did or didn’t do at work. She was sacked for something that happened at home. The facts are not in dispute. Her ten-year-old son swore at her, and after giving him a warning that he would get a smack on the bottom if he did it again, he called her bluff. She was true to her word and applied the mildest discipline to his buttocks over his trousers.

Now most decent reasonable people would immediately recognise that she made a mistake. The warning was entirely out of order. He already knew that what he was doing was wrong. He had already made a conscious decision to curse his mother. This is unquestionably one-strike-and-you’re-out territory.

So all you need now is another rebellious son and a society in complete disconnect with reality. Mrs Pope has both. Her fifteen-year-old snatched his younger brother from the house and called the police. She was arrested and spent 32 hours in police custody. Not only that, her husband was also arrested and held for 32 hours and he didn’t do anything at all. That didn’t stop police questioning him for four hours. She was only questioned for 90 minutes. (I know, I know: on top of all this you are wondering why they were held for 32 hours to be questioned for so little time. That’s the way police do business in this country.)

Someone at the Crown Prosecution Service wisely decided not to charge Mrs Pope with any offence. But as I’m sure you know, Newton’s Third Law of Bureaucratic Motion requires that for every wise action there is an equally stupid reaction. Worcestershire County Council social services stepped in and put both the ten-year-old potty mouth and his eight-year-old sister on the Child Protection Register. They have been on the Register since this occurred last May. According The Daily Telegraph:

sources within the department indicated the Popes had not yet satisfied them that they had met the welfare criteria laid out when the children were placed on the register. “There are issues that still need to be sorted, it’s not simply about a child being smacked,” the source said.

In case you need a translation from the Bureaucraspeak language, the source said that the Pope children are still in danger because bureaurcrats do not believe the parents have accepted the re-education required of them. The State has decided how its children are to be raised and parents must realised that they are merely agents of the State.

So finally, you would think that a posh private school steeped in tradition would be above such things. Well, no. You would think that they would be aware of the character of their employee, but that’s not the issue. Denis Smith, the school’s bursar made the real issue plain in his letter to Mrs Pope informing her that she had been sacked:

The school’s reputation could be significantly damaged in the event that parents or potential parents were to discover that your children are on the Child Protection Register.

We do not believe that the school needs to accept this very real risk to its reputation, which has arisen directly as a result of your conduct.

That’s a lot of words when just two were required: pride and money. But if he wanted to be verbose, he should have just been honest and written something like: “You innocence is irrelevant. We don’t care if social services are completely off their rocker. It is all about appearances and the wrong appearance could cost us pride and money. We care much more about our pride and our money than we could ever possibly care about you, our devalued employee.”

The only positive outcome from this would be for the school’s reputation to be significantly damaged as a result of their conduct. If the values demonstrated by Malvern St James in sacking Susan Pope exemplify what parents want for their children, when they ship them off to be raised by this boarding school, then they should go ahead. Otherwise, they might pause to consider first whether they want their child to be inculcated with the opposite of the Golden Rule. They might further pause to consider whether the way the school treats its employees will be reflected in the way it treats its pupils. Before making a £25,000 per year gamble with the life of a child, perhaps that’s much more worthy of consideration than whether the school nurse smacked her sons bum when he swore at her.

After all, their child may come home thinking that it is okay to destroy the parents’ career if they don’t like being disciplined. Seems like there’s a lot at stake here. I hope the bursar at Malvern St James finds out they gambled the wrong way.

How Does She Know?

While shopping at Asda, I heard a parent discouraging their child from a particular cereal:

“Darling, you don’t want those. They taste like old people.”

No Teachers’ Day in the UK

I found out from Wikipedia that today is Teachers’ Day in Albania. In fact, many countries have a special day for recognising teachers.

The UK does not have such a day. We are not particularly set aside for respect. Rather, this country see teachers has needing lots of regulation and quality control. Most of use are told what to teach by the government, because we can’t possibly be competent professionals.

We have little power left to maintain discipline. The government has determined that many of the methods that formed useful citizens, including most members of the government, are cruel. In a classroom environment, the thing I am most aware of is avoiding proximity to any pupils. This avoids jail or lawsuits. Not that there is a recourse if they get in our face.

We are suspect, so we need hightened background checks which not only include criminal records but any allegations, hearsay or rumour that a police officer wants to put in it. We will be among the first to be biometrically tagged to the national database.

We also provide a dumping ground for people who want someone else to raise their children. Sadly, despite our best efforts, the acorn usually does not fall far from the tree. At a recent parents night, the parents of a disrepectful Year 8 pupil were instructed to use the appropriate entrance to the school. I watched as the dad (all six feet and more than 250 pounds of him) just bullied his way past a female member of staff and ignored her insistence to use the other entrance. Is it really a surprise that his son tries to treat staff the same way and sneers at them with disrepect or laughs in their face when given instructions in school?

At least those parents came to parents night. The ones who don’t are mostly the ones who need to be there. They can’t even be bothered to find out about their child’s progress or lack thereof – and they especially don’t care about how their child is negatively affecting other children’s progress. I don’t think they would particularly care to observe a Teachers’ Day.

Parents Night

Tonight was Year 11 parents night. That’s when parents come in, annual report in hand, to discuss their child’s progress in the run up to GCSE exams.

I had about eight appointments. The only thing is that I teach every pupil in the school, including every Year 11. Virtually all of them will be sitting a GCSE exam in my subject. It is required. So where were the other 90 or so parents?

Of course many of them didn’t show up at all. It is a very rural school so it isn’t easy for many of them to get in. However, it was the ones who turned up and didn’t to see me that disappointed me. Didn’t surprise me. Just disappointed me.

One of the parents who had a appointment didn’t take it seriously at all. “It only religion, after all. You only need it if you are going to be an RE teacher or something like that.” So I painstakingly explained that we taught a philosophy and ethics syllabus and that the ethics issues we dealt with we the big ones that people deal with either personally or as a member of society – that we are the only subject that teaches thinking skills for critically evaluting these things. I explained that no, it isn’t about opinion – that just having an opinion is worth one mark out of twenty on each of the four exam questions.

Most of the parents milled around waiting to speak to the important subjects. They were happy to spend their time doing nothing, rather than taking five minutes to discuss how their child was doing in this GCSE subject. The kids can’t be expected to take the subject seriously if the parents openly don’t.

I have to say that other than the one parent who openly challenged the value of my subject, all of the others to whom I spoke were very nice. Because of that, I enjoy parents night. It’s great to talk to parents who care about all aspects of their child’s education.

Chess

A1 started learning to play chess today. After checkers, chess is a little more complicated, but he slowly digested all of the information about what all the pieces are called and how they move.

Being impatient, he wanted to get started playing as quickly as possible. He does not have the ability to think ahead, so I tried not to think ahead and bring about his defeat as slowly as possible so he didn’t get discouraged. Since he was still learning  the pieces, there was no way he could put together the moves for a checkmate, so it had to end somehow.

Hopefully he will stick with it. If he can start thinking ahead, chess will develop his mental skills. It’s also easier for me to interact that way. I don’t do very well as a lot of the types play that entertains the under-6’s. I have trouble getting down on the floor and back up again. The manchild and I have played table football, though he hasn’t seemed interested in it for a while and the the wife took it down to make space for my parents to stay in his room at Christmas.

I hope he picks it up quickly because I’m also not very good at throwing games.  I have trouble pretending to play. I can be impatient, too.