RELOADED: The Top Five Lies About Behaviour

January 15, 2008

This entry is now available here.


  1. Re:point 1.

    At my local cinema many films are ruined by “chavvy scummy brats(who should have been drowned at birth)”. If a multi million pound blockbuster which they have paid for(maybe not) cannot keep them occupied and entertained how can a teacher be expected to.

  2. In our school, mobile phones are confiscated by teachers (at the administration’s request) and students’ PARENTS have to comeand reclaim them from the headmistress!

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas(in the Middle East)

    • I wouldn’t even try to take a cell phone – not if I wanted to keep both my arms. The students in my school defend those phones more than any part of their body and will physically attack anyone who tries to take it.

      • I have been actively criticised by SMT for confiscating a child’s phone during final period and holding onto it until the next day.

  3. All this trouble is down to teachers. I went to school in the 50s and then the new teachers wanted to be chums and didn’t believe in competition.
    by the time my children went to school the teachers were actively telling the children to ignore their parents. Plus 80% pass rates were normal.
    Gradually education was replaced by indoctrination
    So serves you all right.

  4. I’ve just discovered your website, and I totally enjoy it!I teach in the USA, in California, and trust me – things are going down hill in education here, too – you’re not alone!
    I particularly agree with “The Top 5 Lies about Behaviour.”!
    I’ve tried to find your re-load of ‘Blame the Teacher – 1947 Style” but it isn’t appearing…could you please tell me where I might find it?

    • I feel even more discouraged by the current state of education when I discover that teachers everywhere encounter the same lies and abuse from students and administrators. :(

      • Don’t assume Britain and the US are examples of “everywhere”. The problems seem more extreme in some places rather than others.

        I have a theory that it depends on how divided a country has been. Places which historically have been divided by race or (for the UK) class are more likely to believe that schools can start their culture again from scratch ignoring all existing sources of authority, knowledge or experise and that is, at heart, the attitude that creates the problems.

  5. Thanks.

    I have emailed you an alternative link to that clip.

    There must be something up in education in California, there’s always far more hits on this site from there than the rest of the US.

  6. That sounds familiar, my friend!


  7. […] Senior Management Teams. Their blogs are riddled with stories of assault, incompetence and lies. Links to these blogs can be found on the sidebar to the […]

  8. Perhaps it is because I am desperately naïve, or perhaps it is because I don’t know any different but all of these comments are like prickly pears on the back of my hands. I have been reading teaching blogs and listening to teachers for a while now and it is turning out to be a soul destroying adventure. As a profession it is like a black hole for joy – we seem to take pride in sucking the love out of life.

    I can sit by and weep with the masses no longer. I must pen to paper (or finger to keyboard as it is) and clear my throat.

    We are not at war. We are teachers. Not warriors. It is not Us against Them. It is not an elaborate, career-spanning game of (insert Teacher Name) versus (insert Everyone Else’s Name) that ends in individuals self-mutilating like their father doesn’t love them, turning to excessive amounts of intoxicants that could knockout a rhino or having the mental equivalent of Chernobyl.

    Stop coming up with the Solution. It is boring. So very, very boring to listen to people coming up with The Solution to The Problem with the education system. There is no Problem and there is similarly no Solution. Like everything in this brief life, there is always a plethora of influences, causes and reasons that shape something as gargantuan as an education system. There is simply no single answer. There is no single problem looking for a single solution (must be flexible, enjoys being tossed around and preferably short sighted). It is so much bigger, bolder and brighter than that. As individuals we have to accept that we can not change the System – neither from the inside nor from the outside. All we can do is remember why we do what we do, and why we are who we are. It is not a question of rediscovery, or plumbing the depths of our souls – searching for that reason as to why we have chosen the path we have chosen. Rather it is a question of honesty. Why is the collective noun for teachers ‘a whinge’? Why do we refer to Them as ‘monsters’, ‘bastards’ and ‘thugs’? Why do we decorate all our language with the lexicon of a military commander? Perhaps it is resentment buttered up as self-deprecation. Perhaps it is something else.

    Stop complaining that children don’t want to learn. Some children do, so children don’t. Neither should be revelatory or shocking. After all, we were all children once (unless you are comprised of spare body parts and assembled at the age of 45 – like my old Science teacher) and there were times when we slotted akwardly into either category.

    Stop advocating corporal punishment. It doesn’t work. What kind of message are you hoping to give children by showing them that learning and violence co-exist? Creating environments based on fear, based on the “fuck you I’m the adult” approach are so obviously counter productive that I can only apologise on behalf of the education system that it has produced people who are so embarrassingly myopic that they believe the opposite. Seriously, sorry. You have been failed, massively failed.

    Stop treating children as The Children. They are not a mob. They are not a zoo. They are not a mass of faceless things looking to carpet-bomb their way through your self-esteem. They are human beings. Mini-beings, but individual human beings nonetheless and just like big-beings they get bored, they don’t like doing things they don’t like doing (tad obvious that one), they have a problem with authority, they like it when people are nice to them and they like other people (big people included). This is so red-facingly, white-knuckle inducingly obvious that I can’t believe I am the first one to notice this (although, if I am – copyright). The sooner teachers start treating (and referring to, and thinking of, and waking up in the night over, and watching their lives fall apart because of) those in their charge as individual mini human beings the sooner so many of the dark clouds that cover the teaching landscape will disappear.

    There are problems. Lots of problems, I know, but what happened to the love (dude)? Where did it go? What happened to loving teaching, loving the kick you get from watching others learn, seeing others learn to love learning? Yes, it is a world fraught with problems, devastation, disappointment and Ofsted. Yes, it is a profession riddled with idiots, wasters and too much mid-week wine. But for all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful career. Be cheerful. Strive to teach.

    • Dear DB:
      I called a parent today at her request. She wanted to know about her son’s behavior and progress in my class.

      When I told her that M– yells random obscenities throughout the period (and I told her *exactly* what he says, including “S-ck my b-lls,f-ck you” etc)

      He also keeps his hands in his pants, disrupts the other students in a small remedial class, pokes people . . .

      Her reaction? She wanted to know what kind of learning environment I have in my classroom that her son would act like that.

      Um…. actually the rest of the students are quiet, hard-working kids. I work hard and have varied activities. M– wants chaos.

      Any negative learning environment is caused by her son.

      Please don’t tell harried teachers that it isn’t a war of “us against them.” It is US as teachers trying to hang on to our vision of teaching and helping students.

      It is Us against all the factors that mock teaching and learning, including lame administrators, denying parents and children who need psychological help but never get it.

      Your patronizing “there is no problem except for the teachers’ attitudes” is ridiculous.

      I know better and so will you if you continue to teach in a public school.

  9. Well thanks for that very thorough attack on about a zillion strawmen.

    All I can say is: fitting it all into one comment doesn’t stop it being bollocks.

    Teaching is great. I love teaching. Our system is set up in ways that constantly prevent teachers from teaching effectively, including ways that empower children to prevent their own education and the education of their peers. This is a bad thing.

    To observe this does not make me a whinger; it does not mean I hate children; it does not mean I want fear in the classroom or a return to corporal punishment; it does not make me a victim.

    What it does is fail kids who, with a better system, wouldn’t be failed.

    You can act all outraged at the mere fact that anybody wants children to learn; you can insist that anything but ignoring the problem is horribly negative; you can even suggest that anybody who dares get frustrated at how the next generation is being systematically betrayed is showing their personal flaws. But when it comes down to it, it is those of us who “whinge” care about the interests of kids and it is the denialists who are content to foist ignorance on the next generation.

  10. Dear PB,
    I applaud your tongue in cheek wind up effort. I say this in the hope you are in jest.

    For if you are sincere in what you write you have annointed yourself crown prince of t*ssers.

    and for the rest of you; “won’t someone please think of the children?”

  11. Teachers are not the only problem. There are lots and lots and lots of problems (i think i made this point in my original post), but teachers are one aspect of that problem. It is teachers’ negative glass-undeniably-half-empty attitude that strikes me as one of the biggest problems with the teaching profession.

    It is time we were grown up enough to (ahem) accept some responsibility for the role we play and how the pervading negativity (if this blog and its responses are anything to go by) damages all those involved in the education system.

    Apart from anything else, being so negative all the time is draining. If you don’t like what you do. Quit.

    And yes, wont somebody please think about the children?

  12. Well this is just something we have heard one hundred times before.

    Here’s my last response to it:


    And here is a rather good video about why, in general, it is not a good idea to try and be positive when there are real problems to be faced:


  13. There is no denying there are problems. It is simply a question of how you look at them. Surely ‘facing real problems’ and being positive are not mutually exclusive?

    You can either focus on the negative, or the positive. You can whinge, beat your chest, tear your hair and cover yourself in ash, or you can smile and enjoy the positive. Take pleasure in the small things that work instead of expending a considerable amount of energy focusing on the things that dont.

    All everyone is doing is complaining and offering (from what i can tell) thin, theoretical, archaic, alternatives – if they are offering alternatives at all. We live in the age that we live in. Harking back (as many seem to relish doing)to a questionably ‘better time’ is a spectacular waste of time. Complaining about it – or highlighting the problems – without offering solutions (simply getting rid of everything that we dont like is not a solution – what, after all, will we replace it with?)changes nothing.

    Accept that you can’t change everything. Accept that no system will ever be perfect. We need to stop wearing Daily Mail nostalgic rose tinted glasses and be honest with ourselves. Otherwise nothing will change.

    • “Surely ‘facing real problems’ and being positive are not mutually exclusive?”

      You are the one who seems to think so. You are the one labelling everyone who talks about the problems as “negative”.

      By the way, who is “harking back”? What strawman are you after this time?

  14. personally i take a step back and have a chuckle at the ludicrousness of it all.

    remember the young theives who were sent on a ten grand holiday? they are both in prison now and say the holiday made them worse cos it rewarded their behaviour. no shit.

    i think most people realise that a kevin with a blade and an attitude is a kevin with a blade and an attitude.

    whether you smile at them or not makes little difference. its rather charming to listen to mr motivator (DB). My, he must make tedius company (though im 60% sure hes a WUM).

    Theres little point in being angry. I know its a shame that so many kids are being failed but life will always be full of injustice and inequality.

    Just make whatever small contribution you can in the right direction. I have to say I have worked in schools who have sensible approaches to discpline and they are a joy to work in. So if your school is crummy, my advice is also to find a better one- they are out there- and teaching can be rewarding.
    (providing u avoid the DB’s of the world- luckily you can spot ’em a mile off)

  15. Rob, can I call you Rob? Thank you for your response. Thank you also for clarifying the type of person that regularly contributes to this blog. Fortunatley, a “crown prince of t***ers”, “WUM” and “denialist” such as myself does not appear to be such a welcomed, contributing type. After all, if we can’t share opinions without resorting to name calling then what is the point in engaging in conversation?

    I also thoroughly appreciate you christening me as ‘Mr. Motivator’, although ‘Sir’ will suffice. Furthermore, you are absolutely correct in your assertation that you can ‘spot people like me a mile off’ we are the ones with the Ghetto Blasters on our shoulders, surrounded by da yoof refering to us as “Sir, you are well safe”, with the sun on our backs and smiles on our faces as we walk past the dark, dank corners inhabited by cynics, pessimists and those who generally know better. As for my company being tedious, I am not qualified to make such a claim, even though you appear to be.

    Old Andrew – I am after all the strawmen. Some of your previous contributers have been ‘harking back to the old days’.

  16. “Some of your previous contributers have been ‘harking back to the old days’.”

    Not in a positive way.

    With regard to the point about Rob calling you names, I felt you had set the tone yourself with your caricature of people on here. If I think somebody has crossed the line I won’t approve the post, but I have little time for people who dish it out but can’t take it.

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