Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Peter Harvey Again

As I'm sure you've heard, the trial of Peter Harvey, a teacher at All Saints School, Mansfield; has just begun at Nottingham Crown Court. It would appear that whilst teaching a nightmare class last July, he lost it completely and is accused of trying to kill one of his pupils, Jack Harvey (who cannot be named for legal reasons) with a 3 Kg weight, whilst shouting "Die, Die, Die!" (Whether it was a German lesson and he was merely emphasising the correct form of the definite article, has not been revealed.

Leaving aside the weight, it sounds like one of my average teaching days; so he has my full sympathy. Sadly though, I think it will take more than that to help him. Unfortunately none of our political leaders realise or care that for every teacher who makes the headlines by cracking up in spectacular fashion, a thousand more just wearily turn up day after day to face an endless barrage of appalling behaviour and abuse, in the hope that they might give one or two kids a chance in life.


Anonymous said...

My understanding of the defence was that the child had previously asked the same question eleven times thus:

"what can I use Sir, to change the colour of my hair?"

Dack said...

I've just refused to teach a kid who behaved in an aggressive/threatening manner towards me. I don't know how it will pan out but they can sack me before I'll let him anywhere near me again and they know I mean it.

This is partly our own fault - we take so much shit they get used to lobbing it our way. On mass we're a bunch of pussies.

humanature said...

My solution would have been to dump the keys to my classroom door on my desk and walk out. I know having a job is important but these appalling conditions can't go on. If more teachers refused to suffer the inadequacies of school disciplinary policy by some such demonstration, then something would have to be done. Schools need top-down support. And schools need teachers. So they have to do something to support the teacher so that he or she can do the job. I have sympathy for the teacher, being a teacher myself. I cannot imagine a pupil treating me like dirt – the foul language, etc. I am fortunate to get full back-up from a disciplinary team at my school site in America. There's also security a phone call away if it gets too much. But no student has ever tried anything with me because he or she is aware of the consequences. And the school is on my side. The teacher in this case acted wrongly but no teacher should have been pushed to that level in the first place.

Mr Natural said...

I’ve been retired a while now after a happy and fulfilling career in the classroom. Whenever I’m feeling gloomy, however, I ask myself the following questions:

(i) How much of my lesson time was spent child-minding; just keeping hooligans off the streets?

(ii) How much more successful would my lessons have been had I not had to deal with the handful of groundlings who saw no purpose in learning?

(iii) How much of my ability to control difficult pupils was due to their fear that I might thump someone? (I never did and, thankfully, no-one called my bluff.)

(iv) Why do so many teachers suffer from high blood pressure and drop dead shortly after retirement? (Ask any GP about this; come to think of it, ask any actuary: they know that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme is a nice little earner for the Chancellor.)

Politicians tell us that “teachers must be allowed to teach.” Amen to that; but how to bring it about?
Bring back corporal punishment? That will never happen, and rightly so: we’ve moved on from those days.

No; the older I get, the more I agree with those revolutionary types such as Everett Reimer and Ivan Illich whose books I read as a young teacher in a new comprehensive school all those years ago.

De-school society! Give everyone a voucher at birth entitling him or her to thirteen years of free education, to be taken at any time during a person’s life. To paraphrase Saki’s happy epigram: “Education to be effective must be optional!”

Lilyofthefield said...

I disagree. Children must be taught to be literate and numerate to a level that they can function usefully in society. They need to experience a system in which they are part of a larger group who have no family interest in them as preparation for the workplace. They must be schooled even if they fail to be educated whilst they are there.

It should not be voluntary; it should be compulsory, and children should be MADE to learn the basics and MADE to learn to comply with reasonable instructions. If they aren't acquiring the skills and mindset for this at home from their useless pointless parents, then it will be much more difficult but doubly necessary for them to learn it in school.

Children have historically not much liked being MADE to do anything but somehow they struggled through, possibly because those who disliked it the most didn't have to spend quite so many years enduring it. Just how you MAKE a child do anything it's not in the mood for at this time without recourse to meaningful punishment for non-compliance is a mystery to me, and, it appears, a lot of their parents too. To quote Ned Flanders' father, "We've tried doing nothing and now we're all out of ideas."

Anonymous said...

I have complete sympathy for this poor man.

I am not a teacher myself, but I don't need to be, simply watchig the behaviour and listening to the filth that falls out of the mouths of the school kids on my bus home, tell me exactly what teachers have to put up with.

Here, is by all accounts, a dedicated, competent, gentle caring man, who places great stay in teaching the children in his care. For that he has been pushed beyond human endurance by a bunch of vile, arrogant, undisciplined louts who clearly don't desereve what laughling passes for an education in this country.

What sort of individuals take a camcorder into the classroom to film a decent man recovering from mental illness (no doubt caused by them in the first place)in order to wind him up, film it, and then pressumably post it on youtube?

This may be unfashionable but I have zero sympathy for the lout concerned - he has only himself to blame!

What really angers me about this case though is that this man has been charged with 'Attempted Murder / Grievious Bodily Harm with Intent. Clearly here is a man who is not in his right mind and not responisble for his actions.

This never should have been brough to court, but no doubt this is all part of the 'Children have rights' bullshit that his landed us in this terrible situation.

Have often have heard on the news of some mugger or burglar stabbing their victim only to be charged, not with 'Attempted Murder' but 'Grevious Bodily Harm?' A wanton criminal out to do harm gets all the excuses trotted out for him, but a decent man having a breakdown is treated like scum!

Yet one more reason why our little girl goes private! I wouldn't send our cat to a state school!

Rant over!! (for now!).

Miss Brodie said...

Have just posted a comment on today's blog ... I didn't actually know who Peter Harvey was. Now I do of course, and am absolutely appalled. Agree with everybody's comments but especially Dack. We do accept too much and only by refusing can we put pressure on the system to stop sweeping everything under the carpet. Did anyone see the film Skirt Day? Amazingly very few French teachers seem to have seen it. Maybe they feel that an interest in this French fictional version of the Peter Harvey case might be construed as an admission of teaching reality.