11 October 2008
Is it time to take the F word out of education?
There was a time when the F word would never be heard in a school, but now it is heard just about every day and in every school. Pupils and staff and even head teachers have been seen on television using the F word fraternising freely to make some connection with miscreant pupils.
Mrs Monk was reminded of the time when the word was not used at a recent birthday party given by tennis pal Rose.
This was our first visit to Rose’s home which was packed shoulder to shoulder, with hundreds of guests.
We found ourselves sitting in the lounge and Mrs Monk started talking to a stylish young man towering above her.
“Do I know you?” She said.
His broad grin got broader. Walking about town this happens almost every day. I guessed right, that this was a former student of Miss Monk and just happened to be Rose’s nephew.
“What are you doing now?” said Mrs Monk.
“Oh, a bit of modelling,” he said. “My brother is here, Remember my brother?”
In due course his brother stood beside him and then a sister and then, since they were from a catholic family of nine siblings, they became an endless line of confident handsome young men and women looking down upon Miss Monk, with big big smiles competing for attention with anecdotes like
“Remember Banquo Miss”
And, “He’s always talking about MacBeth Miss”
And, “It’s the only book he’s ever read Miss”
And, “Polanski’s MacBeth was the best Miss”
Some one said, “You scared me Miss”
“I did?” Said Miss Monk.
“Yeah, but you were the best teacher and we loved you”
In turn they endorsed his opinion in a chorus of goodwill.
Another young man sidled up to me because he could not get the attention of his former teacher.
“She was the best teacher” he said.
“No, I mean it,” he said “She was the best teacher” he said.
Still doubting that I believed him, he repeated it once more, then stumbled with the question.
“What is her actual name? I, er don't want to call her,... er..... Mi.......?”
“That's your teacher”, I said “Her name’s Miss Monk”
We laughed but then I noticed that Mrs Monk was beginning to lose it.
Overcome, she sobbed and addressed them all. She said, “You see, we have no kids of our own” and after a short dramatic pause she added, “...and no one to leave it all to.”
They all laughed simultaneously. She had them in her hands, even as her eyes welled up.
“She was the best teacher” said the same boy “We had so much fun. No I mean it, we had so much fun”
Fun is the F word that was not mentioned 10 years ago, but some teachers provided it nevertheless.
Some provide it naturally and are rewarded with the respect and attention of their pupils. Ten years later, Fun has sadly become a requirement demanded by students as a right. Teachers are now required to seek respect and attention by dressing up in silly costumes, and by ignoring the other fashionable F words directed at them. Pupils are even encouraged to complain about teachers that do not provide enough FUN.
How things have changed.