Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/26/cracking_teachers/

Teachers crucified by coughing pupils

I'm Spartacus. No, I'm Spartacus

By Joe Fay

Posted in Mobile, 26th March 2008 10:52 GMT

Teachers are cracking under the relentless strain of dealing with pupils who have become adept at combining the latest methods of cyber bullying with some distinctly old school methods of disrupting lessons.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, told the union's conference this week that pupils' behaviour was getting worse and teachers were not being trained how to deal with it.

He cited examples of teachers being harassed by email, harassed in the street, and of even having pupils camping outside their homes to deliver sustained abuse. Teachers were ill-prepared for this sort of behaviour, he said, and schools and local authorities were not giving them the support or training they needed.

Tim Cox, a member of the national executive committee, proposed a motion calling on the government to offer more training in how to deal with these situations.

He said: "It's the constant low level disruption that causes the problems, the tap, tap, tap of a pen on a desk, the orchestrated coughing, the refusal to comply with the simplest of requests, wearing coats and hoodies, and sending text messages.

"Very often it's this low level disruption that can escalate into a serious incident. Newly-qualified teachers often say that the best training they receive is at NASUWT conferences."

Terrifying indeed, though we're shocked that trade union conferences are being disrupted by coordinated coughing and pen tapping.

It also begs the question of where exactly today's teachers went to school themselves?

While there was no chance of texting while El Reg was at school, symphonic coughing, synchronised coughing, spurious prayer recitations and pre-lesson piling of the classroom furniture were all ways to liven up lessons. And reflecting the days of Sunday afternoon films on TV, a threat to keep the whole class in detention until someone owned up to it, whatever it was, would simply prompt a chorus of "I’m Spartacus." "No, I'm Spartacus."

Of course, teachers in those days were better trained – mainly in how to use the cane, and whatever other blunt instruments came to hand. Some of them even used their brains, such as the English Lit teacher who simply told the games teacher what the naughty vultures were up to – cue after school running around the playground until we were all sick. (Sorry Miss Lean) ®