It is Never Alright to Put Down Your Students!

There is simply no excuse for denigrating your students. Whether they are unruly or not is completely irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how much they fidget, answer back, disturb or waste time, there is no place for a teacher to put down his/her students.

Teachers found breaking that rule repeatedly (or at least more than once), should be forced to tender their resignations. No school or classroom of students deserves such a teacher. Teachers have to wake up to the fact that if they choose to teach children, that’s exactly what they are going to be faced with – a room full of children. Children misbehave. That is reality.

If teachers can’t handle the constant disturbances and the rudeness, they have options:

1, Seek the support of their Principal, colleagues or even the parents of the unruly children.

2. Change their style of teaching (because whatever they are doing quite clearly isn’t working).

3. Find a different job.

I fear it may be too late for Mr. Griffin to take option one or two, and for good reason:

A primary school teacher branded his pupils ‘pests, idiots, clowns and buffoons’ a disciplinary panel heard yesterday.

Roger Griffin, 66, denied that the terms were derogatory and insisted that he had used ‘apt and appropriate language’ to describe the eight and nine-year-old pupils who he also labelled ‘miscreants’.

The now-retired teacher also stands accused of playing piano in the school hall for an entire day after he was not asked to come to work during an Ofsted inspection at Beechview School in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

A panel heard that Mr Griffin’s behaviour at the school was called in to question by acting assistant head Beatriz Melero, who had been called in as a trouble-shooter to boost the ailing primary’s fortunes after the previous headteacher was absent on a long-term basis.

She told the hearing that Mr Griffin – who worked at the school for nine years – had been ‘unduly punitive’ when he put three children in detention and listed the reason as ‘fidgeting’.

Representing himself at a Teaching Agency conduct hearing held in Coventry, West Midlands, Mr Griffin told a disciplinary panel that his conduct had been ‘appropriate’.

Presenting Officer Melinka Berridge said he had penned a letter to the school after complaints were made about his language towards children.

It read: ‘Persistent miscreants who act like delinquents can expect to be treated as such.

‘If they don’t like being called idiots, fools, clowns, buffoons or any similar epithet, there is a very simple solution: don’t act like one.’

Mr Griffin later told the hearing he had only used the terms in reference to ‘the small minority who are disturbing the learning opportunities of everybody else.’

Mr Griffin said one allegation against him, that he shouted at a young boy and called him an ‘idiot’, omitted to mention that the boy had been ‘cavorting’ around his classroom for some time before he reprimanded him.

He said: ‘How do you describe that sort of behaviour without using that sort of language? There is no other way, is there?’

Mr Griffin faces two charges of serious misconduct towards staff and pupils between December 2007 and May 2008.

He is also accused of disregarding directions given to him by acting head Miss Melero, and for failing to follow the National Curriculum in his music lessons.

But Mr Griffin said it was ‘total rubbish’ that his lessons did not adhere to the National Curriculum but he was ‘very pleased’ to admit that he had not used Qualifications and Curriculums Authority (QCA) work schemes when planning lessons because they contained a mistake.

He said: ‘I made it quite clear that I never will follow the QCA schemes of work as they contain an error and I will not teach an error.

He went on to claim that work schemes he devised himself were superior to those created by the national body.

‘My scheme of work is much better than the QCA scheme of work,’ he said. ‘My work supports the National Curriculum to levels that by itself the National Curriculum can’t reach.’

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6 Responses to “It is Never Alright to Put Down Your Students!”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    He’s dressed in a suit and tie. They ought to make him a principal. As for his response to student misbehaviour, it is no worse than that which I have witnessed coming from some principals and executives. Furthermore I wouldn’t be surprised if his work schemes were, in fact, superior to those provided by the curriculum authority.

    That having been said, I have to add that his choice of language and behaviour in relating to students is somewhat unfortunate and that on the surface it appears he has let the negative student behaviour go on too long before attempting to correct it. as in the boy who “cavorted” around the room for some time, before being reprimanded. The longer such behaviour is tolerated the harder it becomes to deal with.

    The option of changing the teaching style is the best advice in such a case but it depends on the preparedness of the teacher to do so. A teaching style that succeeds in one school may not necessarily succeed in another.

    Seeking assistance from school management is not always a sensible option because in many schools the behaviour described is often the result of a dysfunctional school management style that blames the teacher and has no way of dealing with student misbehaviour. For example, I remember being told in one school, by an executive to, “empower yourself”. This was a school where the only power in the place was vested in the principal and there was no way a teacher acting on his/her own initiative could empower oneself without being positively undermined by management. Catch 22.

    Behaviour management is a growth industry in our schools, which, to my mind, is indicative of a deeply entrenched malaise that exists there, not in all schools, of course, but of a systemic dysfunction, nonetheless, that leads to mass medication of students having ADHD, which, in itself is a symptom of something systemic being amiss.

    Could it be that our preoccupation with conformity, standardisation and testing reveals that our education systems are dishing up fast food rather than a truly nourishing educational diet for our children?

    I would encourage anyone reading this to seek out video talks by Sir Ken Robinson (Google) who is calling for a complete change in the paradigm under which we do school.

    • Michael G. Says:

      Interesting thoughts John. Don’t you feel though, that after a teacher has used language like that on a regular basis, it’s too late to help that teacher change his style. His conduct has been too reckless to afford such time and energy. It’s just time for his to move on elsewhere.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    Yes, and that was your 3rd point, with which I agree. Some people should not be teachers. Have you ever noticed, however, that we all have a tendency to teach as we have been taught?

  3. Says:

    Great article.

  4. Hahahan Says:

    I know I’m late to the party in commenting on this, but I stand from the interesting perspective of being an ex-pupil of this man. He used to teach at the music centre I attended almost 20 years ago. He’s been like this a long time. It wasn’t just his language, it was his body language, his over all demeanour and obvious frustration with having to work with kids. I didn’t feel like he wanted to be there at all. I work with kids with SEND these days, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that if the teacher isn’t on board, the kids won’t be either. In the end, another student and I used to just mess around, deliberately putting our instruments out of tune just to get a reaction. (I was at middle school by the way, so probably about ten to eleven years old.) Not very fair of us I know, but he had his rising stars in the orchestra and that’s all that mattered. They got all the fun parts, praise, attention and indeed tuition. The 40 or so others of us may as well have not been there. Poor teaching back then and I’m not surprised his out dated attitudes have got him in trouble. Interestingly enough, I was also diagnosed (as an adult) with ADHD, so goodness knows how I managed to sit through a two hour orchestra practice after school without being branded a muscreant myself! I’d be interested to know the outcome of the tribunal.

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