August 29, 2005

Mouthing off

This has to be a joke:

A secondary school is to allow pupils to swear at teachers - as long as they don't do so more than five times in a lesson. A running tally of how many times the f-word has been used will be kept on the board. If a class goes over the limit, they will be 'spoken' to at the end of the lesson. The astonishing policy, which the school says will improve the behaviour of pupils, was condemned by parents' groups and MPs yesterday. They warned it would backfire.

Parents were advised of the plan, which comes into effect when term starts next week, in a letter from the Weavers School in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.
Assistant headmaster Richard White said the policy was aimed at 15 and 16-year-olds in two classes which are considered troublesome.

"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," he wrote in the letter. "Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."

I'd list everything wrong with this idea, but I don't have all night.

1. Kids are competitive. The daily contest to see whose name gets up on the board first will be just that - a contest.
2. Now, in addition to teaching, teachers will be required to withstand a barrage of curses from students, and will be able to do nothing except stop and write the student's name on the board.
3. If saying the f-word four times carries no punishment, how exactly is that not condoning it?
4. Test item: If there are 30 students in the class, and the class lasts for 60 minutes, and each student can say the f-word four times without getting in trouble, how many times will the f-word be spoken each minute, on average?

I'm not counting here the number of f-bombs the teachers will be dropping by the end of the day, as they are forced to deal with this idiot policy. Quadruple-tolerance for awful behavior is as bad as zero-tolerance for harmless behavior.

Note the lovely rewards for those who do "behave":

...[the school] also plans to send 'praise postcards' to the parents of children who do not swear and who turn up on time for lessons

Oh wow. So now getting to class on time and not sounding like a fishmonger is praise-worthy. That's funny; at least that much was expected of me in school. What's more, since when has a teenager ever behaved just so that that their parents would receive an award?

Note that the newspaper's debate item of the day is:

Should children be removed from parents who are loving but 'not clever enough' to raise them?

How about let's talk about students being removed from the influences of principals who are "not clever enough" to understand the implications of this policy? I think Ace is right; they're getting rid of bad behavior by defining it away.

Posted by kswygert at August 29, 2005 07:04 PM