One Woman's Week: Swimming Against A Current Of Fools

11-06-07

By Karen Fenessey 

Sometimes I despair about this modern society in which we live. People like me go through extensive and rigorous education to become teachers and our primary goal, apart from securing a respectable employment package, is to mould young minds and provide children with a secure moral code to live by. I certainly do that everyday and not once have I heard a whisper of thanks from any child.

But to counteract the shining example which we teachers set, there are parents out there who seem to make it their job to undo all the good work that is done in class.

Personally I've never been a parent but I know pretty much everything there is to know about child-rearing, having watched the BBC series "Child of Our Time".

Unfortunately, many parents don't teach their children to respect their elders and be self-sufficient and so when their kids turn up on the first day of school they expect the teacher to run around after them, tying their shoelaces and whatnot. It's a disgrace. No wonder we get so many lazy, good-for-nothing adults in this world. If it were up to me I'd make sure the really bad children were sterilised from an early age – when the warning signs are there – so that they can't keep the vicious circle of ignorance going. Man hands on misery to man. That's what Larkin was hinting at and we all know it.

Not many people realise it, but the key to gaining the respect of a child is not love, but humiliation. It may sound like a hard line to take but after two years of teaching experience under my belt I know I am right. Children are all about testing your authority and if you let them know who's boss from the get go, you're on track for success.

I had to take an extra class of P2s the other day because one of my colleagues was "off sick" (that's another thing that really gets my goat – having to carry the can for someone who just can't be bothered. I know for a fact that Margaret's appointment with the oncologist wasn't until the afternoon, and yet she thinks she has the right to leave at 11.30. It makes me sick to the teeth). The children were finishing off their starburst paintings, and one of them, who I suspect was from one of those immigrant families judging by her poor diction and dirty fingers, took it upon herself to shout out and ask – without raising her arm first – if she could go to the toilet.

Now I don't tolerate shouting out under any circumstances and this was no exception. I sent the child to Coventry (that means I ignored her) and told the rest of the class to do the same. If the bell for dinner hadn't gone I would have left her squirming there until she pissed on the chair. It might sound like a radical approach, but you can guarantee that child will never shout out again.

People often ask me – Karen what is your secret? Praise embarrasses me because I'm such a humble person, but when someone asks for advice it's only fair to pass it on. When ever some idiotic kid comes along and tries to make me compromise my ethical code, I repeat a mantra which enables me to soldier on: "I will rise above you, you are dirt on my shoe". It has always worked up until now, and I hope that other teachers will emulate me by adopting it for themselves.

I might just be one woman, but in my own small unassuming way I help to make this world a better place.

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