Sir, – I refer to recent letters in The Courier on the subject of indiscipline in the classroom, and regard the reasons suggested for bad behaviour as irrelevant to the teacher who is faced with pupils whose only aim is to disrupt.
The greatest deterrent to bad behaviour was the belt and when it was abolished, discipline declined. As a secondary school teacher, I was against the abolition and so were an overwhelming majority of my pupils. And the belt was indeed a deterrent, as, when clearing up my desk prior to a summer vacation, I suddenly realized I hadn’t used it during the entire year. Although it was never in sight, the pupils knew it was there. The belt, of course, is now history, and is unlikely to be restored, as so many well-meaning people, who have never had to cope with unruly teenagers, regard its use as cruelty.
In the 1980s, the only other available sanctions were detention after the school closed at 4pm or lines, and as teachers had to supervise detainees, detention was a self-punishment option.
Lines created extra work for the teacher, as a note had to be made of the pupil’s name, the number of lines given and when they had to be handed in. If the pupil did not bring them at the specified time, he or she had to traced, the number of lines doubled and if, once again, the pupil didn’t conform, the matter was referred to an assistant rector.
The best sanction I’ve heard of was brought to my attention by a man who had taught in Mali when it was under French control. A teacher could have a recalcitrant pupil brought in on a Saturday, to be supervised by someone who was not a teacher.
When I entered teaching in 1961, many teachers gave unstintingly of their time; after school hours and supervising football or hockey on a Saturday morning. Due to pressures put on them, this all changed in the 1980s. There are still lots of good jobs in education, but teaching isn’t one of them.
Ian M Malcolm.
Worlds apart on council duties
Sir, – Fuss is being made of the fact that while a building warrant was obtained for the demolition of Halley’s Mill, planning permission was not.
The building control and planning departments of Dundee City Council occupy the same building and answer to the same chief executive. Yet events appear to indicate they operate from different planets.
You might suppose that the departments would bring matters of common concern to each other’s notice, or at the very least read each other’s application lists. That they seem not to do so suggests “a state of war” exists between the departments – although simple disinterest and incompetence might be to blame.
Report shows weakness on EU
Sir, – Now we know why the SNP Growth Commission report has been so long delayed. Over the last year the SNP has been doing everything possible to undermine the Brexit process. Now it has admitted its own experts consider it could take up to a decade to get an independent Scotland’s economy strong enough to contemplate starting a new currency. Then and only then could the process of applying for membership of the EU start, and that could take many years. So the SNP suggests Scotland leaves the UK and remains outside of it and the EU for at least a decade, more likely much longer.
This new report is supposed to offer a new frank analysis of the case for independence, but just how honest is the SNP prepared to be about what it implies about Scotland’s relationship with the EU as well as the UK?
SNP poster boy out of time
Sir, – How different would Scottish history have been if Growth Commission report author Andrew Wilson had retained his “list” Holyrood seat in 2011?
He seems a decent, able type of person who, with the support of Alex Salmond, could have introduced policies that properly exploited devolved powers, proved the SNP could run an independent Scotland and provided evidence on which to vote yes or no.
I understand much of his report could be delivered without independence. While its realism would have scared the voters in 2014, in 2016, some real achievements in Government – and Brexit – might have won a convincing mandate for a referendum in 2019.
Instead Scotland has declined under the SNP, riven by anger and bitterness, ruled by pale imitations of the first SNP “cabinet” with neither the ability, credentials or desire to implement the market-based, hard-nosed policies Wilson’s ideas demand. But he may have done us a favour by legitimising the approach. If the SNP’s new poster boy says reality is the way forward maybe all the parties will include this in their 2021 manifestos.
1 Willow Row,
Politics needs a positive note
Sir, – I have given up listening to most of the exchanges from the main opposition parties at First Minister’s Questions.
It is not about holding the Scottish Government to account but of going on at length, especially Ruth Davidson, about how bad things are in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK without any ideas for how things would be better if she was First Minister.
The other pro-union leaders are about as bad.
As a supporter of Scottish independence since I left Waid Academy in June 1990, but whose first vote at the General Election in 1992 was for Menzies Campbell, I wonder when the pro-union parties are going to come up with manifestos I might actually want to vote for?
Parking talks merit scrutiny
Sir, – I was pleased to see in The Courier of May 24 the report by Gareth McPherson that the minutes of meetings held at NHS Tayside were reviewed by Grant Thornton as part of the investigation into historical financial management. Would it be too much to ask that a similar approach be adopted for checking the minutes of meetings held when the policy for car park licensing to a private operator was discussed and agreed?
It would be enlightening, and the tax payer should know, who those responsible were, and why they thought it a good idea to enter into such a long term contract with what has proved to be the unacceptable face of car park management.
US sounds a Brexit alarm
Sir, – Another clue to the shape of a post-Brexit deal with the US was revealed on Tuesday. The US House of Representatives passed a bill to exempt the vast majority of financial firms from the Dodd-Frank bank regulations passed after the 2008 Wall Street crash.
Amid surging bank profits and CEO pay and as the 10th anniversary of the Wall Street crash approaches, the token restrictions on the banks passed during the Obama administration are being dismantled.
These minimal measures were mainly enacted to provide political cover for the administration’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the institutions responsible for the wholesale destruction of jobs, millions of home foreclosures and the wiping out of retirement savings.
This is all happening as America’s largest corporations continue their unprecedented stock buyback scheme in the wake of President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, dramatically increasing the risk of another crash.
The most profitable corporations are posting obscene profits and using that cash to reward wealthy shareholders through stock buybacks while investing nothing in their workers.
This is how the Trump sideshow works. While people are distracted by inconsequential events, such as the bogus Russia investigation or alleged play-offs to adult movie actresses, the US Government gets on with gutting rights and rewarding plutocracts.
And this is the shape of things to come if a “Hard Brexit” becomes a reality.