Monday, July 13, 2009

Peter Harvey

Think back to when you were at school and how much fun it was to wind the teacher up until they exploded in a fit of rage, clobbering the daftest boy in the class whilst glowing bright red with incandescent fury. Nowadays it's even better as they dare not do anything to vent their feelings, so we end up with a case like that of Peter Harvey.

Now I suspect that we don't really know the full facts of this incident yet, so I'll not comment on it. I am thankful however that I only came very close to lashing out at a pupil who had been driving me mad all lesson, on about 840 different occasions during my teaching career.


oldHack said...

I don't condone what this teacher did, but I have a huge, huge amount of sympathy for him. He has a very good plea in mitigation. I hope that the judge is not an idiot and understands the extraordinary stress under which far too many teachers suffer.
In my day being cuffed by a teacher was utterly normal - an in fact you ran the double risk of being cuffed by a teacher, and then cuffed again when you got home.
Not saying we want to go back to those days, but clearly the pendulum has swung far too far the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

Most telling thing I've read about it was this: "Former pupils arrived at the court with letters of support and good luck cards for physics teacher Mr Harvey."

Note that: not letters of support for the child he beat unconscious and left in a pool of blood with a bleed on his brain and a fractured skull... support for the TEACHER.

Good on them.

From conversations with colleagues (non-teachers all) I know I'm not the only one whose first response to this story was "Just how much of a **** must that kid have been?", rather than any judgement on the teacher's behaviour.

Boy on a bike said...

We used to get wooden blackboard dusters thrown at our heads with great force. Pity those that failed to duck - they'd have a headache, a lump and hair turned grey with chalk for the rest of the day. Other teachers would smack you on the top of the head with a thick text book.

We had one teacher who became so enraged one day, he picked up a desk and threw it out of a 4th floor window - that was closed. He ended up being our Deputy Head, and he was absolutely marvelous. A legend. I might not have enjoyed maths much (which he taught), but I paid attention, stayed awake and never, ever talked out of turn!

And, thanks to his no nonsense discipline, I studied hard, did well in my exams, and laid the foundations for a happy, rewarding and productive life.

So I say "yes" to teachers throwing dusters, desks, and anything else that comes to hand.

Anonymous said...

I read that this teacher had recently suffered a stroke and was signed off work due to stress-related problems. The pupil allegedly told him to "f*** off and have another stroke". Little angel.
I hope the teacher will be able to plead diminished responsibility due to his poor health. And, although his career is ruined, I hope he'll get off lightly and not end up in prison, and that he'll still receive his hard-earned pension. as for the boy..let's hope he'll refrain from such ugly and cruel comments in the future.
I thought it highly significant that former pupils turned up supporting the teacher. And how they can accuse him of MURDER,....that involves intent to kill and planning, so far as I i am informed. attempted manslaughter, maybe, but I think GBH would more likely describe it.

Mr Natural said...

There but for the grace of God …

I always said that if some little scrote told me to eff off I would knock his teeth down his throat. Luckily I retired before I had my resolve put to the test.

Maybe I’m being over sensitive, but I don’t see why the Times had to put Peter Harvey’s picture next to that of Myra Hindley.

MarkUK said...

I work at a school not 20 miles away from Mansfield (non-teaching).

I can understand why a committed teacher would "flip", particularly if he'd been suffering from stress. I am not in minute to minute contact with our "students", but what I hear and see, first hand, makes me wonder how any teaching can be done.

Violence to staff has been ignored in the past, so that all (teaching & support) staff rarely report it. It's just not worth the ink.

Perhaps we'll find out what really happened when Mr Harvey mounts his defence.

I hope his union supports him to the hilt.

Anonymous said...

What worries me about your comment is the 'to the hilt' bit. I hope the union will support him in his time of need but if the PC brigade scent blood I suspect it will be two steps back and then put the knife in ' to the hilt'

Anonymous said...

" how they can accuse him of MURDER,....that involves intent to kill and planning"

Common misconception. Murder does not require planning, it requires only intent, and not even intent to kill, per se, merely not having taken precautions to avoid killing. This often comes as a surprise to civilians.

To argue that the killing was unintentional, the killer generally needs to demonstrate that they took precautions not to kill and that the death could not have been anticipated (e.g. I punched the guy in the chest. I had no way of knowing he had a weak heart and that impact would kill him.)or was unavoidable, whatever action they took.

If you bash someone in the head with a metal weight hard enough to fracture their skull, their death is not an unforeseeable outcome.

Attempted murder does, in light of the information available, seem a perfectly reasonable charge to make.

Anonymous said...

Things like this really wind me up. As a fellow teacher I can appreciate the levels of stress and demand a class of 30 children have, I am by no means condoning the behaviour of Peter Harvey but as previosuly stated I think it shows an awful lot that he is the one that is getting supported and not the child who was beaten within an inch of his life. I am so angry as a friend of mine got stabbed and the perpetator received a measley 2 years in jail- justice hey!

Laura said...

My heart goes out to Peter Harvey. I have had recent experience of appauling classroom behaviour, where I was shocked at the indulgent, abusive and apathetic behaviour. I left the job after only a few weeks, because the physical symptoms of the stress made it hard for me to move my back. Perhaps Peter's tragedy will finally make ministers and education chiefs face up to the chaos which unruly behaviour brings. The power has to lie with adults, not children.

Harrylechat said...

I left a career in secondary school education after one year and went back to teaching adults. The majority of the children were ok out of school but some were amazingly accurate models of the nasty adults they have since become. I felt I had no choice but to leave since teachers no longer have any recourse left to them to instill discipline and in most of the problem cases there was neither support nor interest from the parents. We have created a subculture of feral children and will pay the price for generations to come.

Anonymous said...

When teaching and reaching my snapping point I have always chosen to leave the room and seek other staff to help out, rather than attack a pupil.

Anonymous said...

check out the tome 'freakonomics' and the incidence of crime correlated with unwanted children therein. If parallels are drawn to the behaviour and conduct of the current cohort of little charmers then heaven help our future streets. Good job there isn't an alcohol problem bubbling away to boot. Hmmmm, I speak from supply teaching experience... ugghhh...