Ponder Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ for a moment. A social commentary based on a group of youngsters living on their own terms. Some want rules, others don’t. There is a power struggle and a disregard for authority. In any case, the matter is explored through a microcosm of children. They are, after all, our future.
Considering this, I would like to extend an invitation to President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron to my classroom. And no, not to observe the disgrace that is the education system. The failures there have little to do with that room and its occupants. I merely want them to observe an anecdote of the world at large.
Picture this; the slick styled Cameron and charismatic Obama approaching people, who literally, and without blame, have no interest or regard for them. I’m talking about twelve year olds. Kids, essentially. Students whose concerns seemingly have no relevance to the wider world. Are they my girlfriend yet? Why did he snitch on me during science? How can I get back at her for spreading those rumours?
You build relationships with students over months, not minutes. So when I say ‘stop’, and they know I mean it, they stop. However, send in Cameron, Obama, or any adult they don’t recognise and they’re an entirely different bunch. In comes the politician, ‘Oi you, in the back row- cut it out! I could have you excluded!’ Do you think this Asian kid from Leyton is going to be happy with some smarmy guy in a suit telling him what to do? Hardly.
So the leader might thank me and excuse himself from the classroom. The door would barely close before the resentment is pouring from the student’s mouths. Who does he think he is? He can’t tell me what to do. And other such comments that wouldn’t do these students justice to mention. Effectively, someone who in terms of the state is senior, has placed a sanction in my classroom, without my support. They have also placed a sanction against a group that deems them irrelevant.
The aftermath can be summed up in one word: upset. Students roaring at each other across the room. How come he only blamed me and not you? I don’t give a toss what he says anyway. I raise my hand to signal silence. No response. I raise my voice, demanding silence. No response. My voice isn’t loud enough to drown out the cussing and commotion that is left in the politician’s wake. And in fact, the longer time passes, the more out of hand the situation becomes. Students are out of their seats punching others in the face. Weaker students are trod on by bigger and more boisterous ones. I find myself backed into a corner.
Yes, I can threaten the class with an after school detention. That’d certainly put pressure on the rowdier students to calm down and be reasonable.
Yes, I can slip from the room and call for back up. A whole host of teachers will help out if needs be. We are, after all, a team.
But where is Mr. Cameron, or Mr. Obama and their sanction? Fine, the student spoke out of turn. I might have dealt with it, though some battles aren’t worth fighting. The only purpose they have served is to aggravate a situation among a group who have enough to deal with. This isn’t Albania. This isn’t Afghanistan. But even if it was, where is the merit in this kind of intervention?