Blame The Teacher – 1947 Style

March 2, 2008

I found this on another teaching website, but as they were using it without irony I think I’d better avoid giving them credit for it.

The frightening thing is that there are still people out there who think this is useful advice.


And remember:

Disciplinary problems in the classroom are symptoms of underlying weaknesses in total learning situation.


  1. This is very interesting that you have this- this was used in a recent inset and most of the teachers went along with this. I found myself alone in thinking the attitude of blaming the teacher infuriates me. Ah well

  2. To me it takes incredible, self-deceiving arrogance to think that other teachers want poor relationships and a resentful class. I love this video because its absurdity points out just how delusional that attitude is. People who manage to take it seriously must be quite far gone. Do they really think there are teachers who will see it and think: “My God, I realise now that where I was going wrong was by being really rude and unpleasant to my classes. If only somebody had told me that before!”

  3. I would imagine, Andrew, that teachers who agree are thinking “Ah, that’s why Mr. X’s class always play up – because he is a bully who overcompensates for his alcohol dependency with frightening displays of uneven temparement and transparent favouritism.”

    Teachers under a constant regime of checking for mistakes are likely to think that mistakes are therefore very common in the lessons of others, and look for likely reasons for this.

  4. Alternatively, blaming the victim is a convenient habit to get into if you lack the brains or character to actually confront the problem.

  5. “Alternatively, blaming the victim is a convenient habit to get into if you lack the brains or character to actually confront the problem.”

    The most sobering message I have learned from commentary on education is that it is impossible for teachers individually, perhaps even collectively as a school, to alter the social problems that may underlie classroom behaviour in the most awful classes.

    We should also add that teachers are not likely to alter Senior Management practise themselves either.

    Therefore I’m not sure how teachers could be asked to confront the problem, and can see why they so readily accept the tactic of ‘blaming the victims’ in order to present to themselves and each other the lie that control of the “total learning situation” lies in their hands.

  6. I think this would have been used in teacher training. While what you say is true, that teachers often can’t do much about the underlying social problems, it’s very tempting for newer teachers in particular to resort to too many detentions and ordering kids out, rather than trying to engage positively. I think this video does present some useful ideas. Bus sort of thing takes time to devlop, and doesn’t work with every class, even for well-seasoned teachers. I do agree, however, that this video does seem to blame the teacher for everything, and I don’t think that’s fair.

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas

  7. Can’t resist posting this, too:

  8. And this is not for the squeamish …

  9. As the teacher and as the adult in the room, Mr. Grimes bears a lot of responsibility for the events that took place in the video. “Blame the teacher” distracts from the point. We can point fingers, or we can try and figure out ways in which Mr. Grimes might have handled the situation better. Nah! Let’s just blame the students! Detentions all round!

    • The point is that it is objectionable to suggest:

      a) teachers need to be told not to behave like Mr Grimes

      b) a teacher who did behave like that would be able to change their behaviour as a result of seeing that video


      c) that not behaving like Mr Grimes is all it takes to deal with poor behaviour.

      Nobody is saying that it is a good idea to act like you hate all your classes. But it gets to something when SMT think that bad behaviour is usually a result of teachers acting like that rather than a system which systematically excuses bad behaviour.

  10. The frightening thing is that there are still people out there who think this is useful advice
    Oh! Are you suggesting that what Mr. Grimes did in the beginning of the video was “useful”? Are you suggesting that the “revised” approach shown later in the video is wrong or useless? Are you suggesting that the better example of good teaching is the first version? Are you suggesting that the principle stated at the end of the video is a false one? (That does not mean that you accept the behaviours shown as ones that would of practical use in your situation; that is a different matter.)

    • I am suggesting that teachers don’t need to be told not to hate their students, and teachers hating their students is not a root cause of bad behavour.

      The point is not that, given the absurd fictional world of the film, the advice is bad. The point is that the fictional world of the film is absurd and anybody who believes in it as an explanation for the behaviour crisis is an idiot.

  11. Mr Grimes would not last one second in a contemporary classroom but, sadly, competent teachers with good classroom skills – including boardwork created before, not during the lesson – very often fare much worse with kids now.Mr Grimes’ class would be a delight for any decent teacher these days – but they rarely exist outside grammmar schools.

    And supply teachers? Forget it! No time allowed.
    The kids storm into the rooms plug in their ipods drink, chat and eat and don’t take a blind bit of notice except to say eff off if the sub attempts to impose order.

  12. I am surprised that the children in these various clips didn’t simply spanner the teacher for the nerve of trying to teach them.

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