Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Schools Need Discipline

Yesterday's post, about the seemingly beyond parody story of an examiner who awarded a candidate marks for responding to a GCSE English question with "Fuck off", was one I didn't expect to meet much in the way of disapproval.

put up a mainly tongue-in-cheek (but still wrong-headed, particularly by his high standards) response, comparing the candidate to swearbloggers and to Gordon Ramsay.

Patrick Vessey at the Libertarian Party blog, on the other hand, has this LPUK member rather bemused.

I also feel for the student. Faced with the question "Describe the room you're sitting in", the sheer idiocy, the banality, and the pointlessness of the examination may well have tempted me to respond as he did. Asked to make a choice of who to go out for a beer with, who would be the more interesting human being, I'd take the individual with a bit of individualism over any member of the dutiful herd who actually bothered to scratch away at answering that question any day.
Patrick: We're not talking about a polemical diatribe, here, that the candidate has been penalised for. We're not talking about "independent, individual thought" as you put it later on, or anything with any wit, or imagination, or a statement with any originality whatsover. We're talking about a brat with so little concern for their own future, and so little respect for their teachers, their school and the examiners, as to scrawl "Fuck off" on an exam paper.

There are times for "independent, individual thought", and there are times when a little bit of "banal, thoughtless conformity" is required. That is true throughout adult life, and will remain true no matter how large or small the state is. At the very least, the candidate concerned has somehow managed to get to the age of 16 without taking this valuable life lesson on board. I expect that in truth they are more likely to be the type of pupil described in this teacher blog post.

For any society to function, the people who make up that society have to appreciate that they have responsibilities as well as rights. It is quite obvious that many children aren't bring taught this at home. It is critical for this reason, and for the school to function as a learning environment, that schools instil good discipline in their pupils. In many cases - because, I suspect in part, of the fashionable attitudes like yours - this does not happen, and here is one example of the end results. This is not the way to achieve a functioning society in which one of the fundamental tenets is personal responsibility. It is a good way to end up with a broken society.


Anonymous said...

Ian -- I'm only go to reply in one place, and I've done so at the LPUK blog.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Here's another good story that fits in with the theme


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicler said...

Quite honestly Ian, if I was a student of English-the language of Tyndale, Milton, Blake and Steven Moffat-and I was faced with an exam question so soul-destroyingly uninspired and indeed, uninspiring as the one referred to in the article, I would feel that it was my duty, as a libertarian-indeed as a free-born Englishman, to answer with a brace of considered words of the ancient and noble Anglo-Saxon.

Except I'd use longer sentences, obviously:-)

QT said...

I agree it is a poor question. However, going by past papers, the candidate would actually have had a choice of 3 or 4 possible topics on which to write of which the question described was one. So the bad question can't be used as a justification for this behaviour.

mutleythedog said...

I think schools and teachers have to earn respect - not just expect it.

Richard Allan said...

If the question seems "uninspired", then perhaps it is merely an uninspired mind considering it?