Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are the phones to blame?

What ever way you look at it, the recent Peter Harvey case is both disturbing and tragic: for the boy who was injured, for the other pupils in the class, for the school and for Mr Harvey himself.

The NASUWT has called for "tighter controls on the use of mobile phones in schools" (see the BBC report: Case prompts mobile crackdown call). In a quote reported in same BBC news item, the union's general secretary says:
"What we had in that classroom was an explosive situation of a combination of a teacher who was in a fragile state, of pupils who were set to exploit that fragile state and mobile technology that acted as a catalyst to make the whole situation escalate extremely quickly."
Up to "...exploit that fragile state" I was in broad agreement. I'm not convinced though that the absence of mobile technology would have changed the outcome. Pupils have always exploited weakness. Pupils have always egged each other on so that pupils within a mob behave in a way that they wouldn't if they were on their own. I remember classes acting like this, deliberately winding up a teacher, when I was a pupil and there wasn't a mobile phone in sight. (Mostly because they hadn't been invented!)

That the behaviour of all concerned was unacceptable (and I include the school authorities here) is beyond dispute. That mobile phones are the catalyst of such behaviour seems less clear. However, I'm just guessing. I have no evidence to support or refute my assertion. But I suspect that the NASUWT's has no real evidence for its claim either.

Does anyone know of any evidence one way or the other?


Mosher said...

I'd agree that phones and other electronics have nothing to do with the case.

Part of me is glad he got off with the lesser charge of GBH. However, it does pinpoint a huge issue in that it's not uncommon for children to act in this way.

I'm definitely not one to warrant hitting children, but there must be something up with the system we have (or at least that of the school involved) when such a situation could be allowed to happen. How on earth could a class become that unruly?

Of course, the school will be held partly to blame for that. But what can any school do without the support of both higher authorities and parents? It's the latter I feel are often to blame - either being too soft on their own offspring or passing far too much responsibility for the youngster's upbringing to the education system - a system which has its hands tied as far as discipline goes.

David said...

I still maintain that this is nothing new. I could tell stories from my own school days and my father tells me stories of what went on in his school. And no doubt my grandfather would have told stories about his school days...

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