18 Sep, 2021

Tough Discipline, again ….

Following the last blog post, other examples are:

The same 1972 university course but this time teaching in Spain.  We TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) trainees were sent to Barcelona for a couple of weeks and were allocated a school each. Mine was in the suburb of Horta, so I took a short daily train ride and taught teenagers.

They were delightful to be with – some of them brought guitars in each day, practising and singing in the breaks.  They were often unruly in class though, and clearly enjoyed being so.

When a London University tutor – let’s call him Alex –  came out to assess us, he was in my class when the students were in a particularly rowdy mood.  Sitting at the back of the room, notebook in hand to record his observations, Alex watched as I announced that the lesson was now starting.  No one took any notice.  So I said it again, much louder.  Still the laughter and banter and noisy gossip.

At that critical stage in the professional course to which I was giving a year of my life, yours truly wasn’t happy.  Nervous, angry and desperate probably summed it up.  Something more forceful was needed to shut them up.  But what?  No idea.

On an impulse I took off my shoes.  Threw one against the wall behind me.  With the other, started beating the teacher’s table at the side.

All heads turned.  Many mouths open.  Silence.  Had Mr Peace gone mad?

Smiling broadly – so easy to fake – Mr Peace announced that we were going on a walk, hence the shoes.  But in the classroom. Via a story.  In fact I’d prepared a lesson to practise prepositions.

A quick sketch of a route on the blackboard, and off we went: out of the house, along the path, through the gate, down the hill, over the bridge, up the hill, into the forest, under the trees, round the pond, and then, realising we’d not locked the house, back again, with class participation at each stage.  And so on. They practised. They seemed to enjoy it.  It worked.

Alex didn’t say anything when it was all over.  Just a smile.  But he gave me a good grade.

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And then, in the 1980’s there was prison: the first story here https://deardavid.co.uk/18/06/2020/saudi/

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Just one more, in the next few days.

2 Comments

  1. I love these confessions of your discipline strategies! I’ve been trying to remember some of Malc’s more interesting techniques and can recall a couple that didn’t quite have the intended result. One was in his earlier days of teaching. A boy was being particularly annoying and Malc lobbed a piece of chalk at him, striking a well aimed blow to the ear. Unfortunately and unknown to him the boy had ear problems and the result was a very irate and vengeful mother! Sometimes, however, parents were very much in favour of discipline. There was an occasion when a boy seemed to lose all control and became quite violent. In desperation Malc tied him to a chair and there he sat for quite some while until he calmed down. I’m sure that today this would be deeply frowned upon but the mother urged Malc to use this method as often as he saw fit!
    I’m sure many of us have memories of discipline meted out to us. Any confessions, anyone?!

    Reply
  2. We suffered a particularly vicious and bad-tempered headmaster at my secondary school whose favourite activity was persecuting the boys when they couldn’t answer a question. We used those old fashioned desks with lids, so he would grab the offending boy by the back of the neck, lift the lid, shove the boy’s head inside the desk, and then whack the lid down on the lad’s head. We looked on helpless, and silent, hoping he wouldn’t turn on anyone else. (He had other tricks to humiliate the girls, which I won’t go into here!)
    We never told our parents for some reason, but eventually he was sacked.
    Thinking about it now, the other teachers must have known and yet no-one did anything about it.

    Reply

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