I UNDERSTAND that there have been a few changes in education over the past few decades.
For example, it seems that teachers are no longer allowed to hurl pieces of chalk at pupils who were talking in class or who had failed to learn their French irregular verbs. This is hard to believe.
A well-aimed piece of chalk in the middle of the forehead never did any harm and teachers always took care to avoid the eyes.
But then teachers don’t even use chalk any more. They have “white boards” on which they write with “smart pens”. These are probably too valuable to hurl at pupils, even if the regulations allowed it.
Which they don’t. The only lashing that a teacher is allowed to administer today is a tongue-lashing or well-aimed piece of sarcasm...
But no. It seems that verbal chastisement has gone the way of blackboards and flying chunks of chalk.
For example, a bog-standard sarcastic reproach to a pupil or anybody who is making a mullock of a simple task is to sigh and say “It’s hardly rocket science...”
However, a teacher friend who recently attended a diversity awareness workshop or some such laid on by his local education authority (not Calderdale) tells me that the phrase “it’s hardly rocket science” has been blacklisted, along with any form of mild criticism or sarcasm, lest the feelings of pupils be hurt in any way. I suppose that even expressions such as “You really are a blithering idiot!” have also been outlawed.
Retention of teachers is a problem. Maybe they don’t yearn to swish a cane over the backside of recalcitrant pupils (well perhaps some of them do). But take away their powers of sarcasm and the profession will seem less attractive than ever.
Let our teachers have their irony back. It’s hardly rocket science...
* THE mystery of Britain’s missing summer is puzzling top scientists. It never did seem to happen, did it? But then it never really does nowadays. Since the dawn of time, mankind has accepted the premise that the year is divided into four seasons. Perhaps this needs a rethink, in our part of the globe at least. We still have autumns, when leaves fall off the trees, and we are getting winters once more, with lots of snow, and a sort of spring-like thing usually arrives. But then summer never really emerges. We need to readjust and think in terms of the Three Seasons – Autumn, Winter and... well, let’s call it Sprummer!
* OK, so the economy is volatile and likely to remain so.
But just a quick plea to editors of city pages and the producers of TV news shows. Can you stop using symbolic pictures of traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, or barrow boy brokers at the City of London, gazing in horror at computer screens?
Meanwhile a jagged red line is usually superimposed over the picture. It’s a thumping great cliche, and those traders and brokers are just a bunch of headless chickens anyway.