“Si vis pacem, para bellum”—Flavius Vegetius Renatus

10 Jul

Nick Gibb, schools minister, whom I believe but have yet to confirm was disowned by his more musical relatives, announced yesterday that teachers will have more power to “crack down on nuisance pupils.” I say, harrumph.

Surely the term “nuisance pupils” is redundant. When was the last time Mr Gibb was around young people? They are, by definition, a nuisance. Duh.

One of these so-called powers is the power to search students for the following items: music players, mobile phones, fireworks, knives, pornography and cigarettes. Schools today are in trouble, I would never deny that. They are hotbeds of violence, bigotry, and frustration, and anyone who works there and survives deserves an award. But I do believe this scheme to be mostly pointless.

Music players must be annoying (especially given the music young people undoubtedly play through them) but how dangerous can a Walkman be? Their corners are rounded, for goodness sake.  And do students really bring fireworks into the building? Obviously students shouldn’t be bringing fireworks to school but they shouldn’t be bringing ten litre tanks of gasoline to school either, and I don’t see those on the list.

Pornography seems a bit unnecessary as well; are young people really that interested in pornography? I find that a bit hard to swallow. In fact, including it on this list may actually end up encouraging young people to find out more about pornography. It wouldn’t surprise me if within 48 hours of Mr Gibb’s announcement, young people will be heading down to their local library’s card catalogs, searching for books on erotic art and/or old issues of Health & Efficiency.

Personally, I am appalled that teachers would even consider confiscating cigarettes from young people. During puberty, it is vital that teenagers can define themselves as “cool” and there is no better way of doing this than by smoking cigarettes. In five years when our hairdressing salons, mobile discotheques, and crack dens are being run by poindexters instead of hipsters, we will have Mr Gibb to blame.

Many students claim that they carry mobile phones to school for safety reasons: if someone attacks them with a Walkman and/or a piece of pornography, they will immediately be able to ring through to 999. I know this to be a lie. Check any young person’s mobile and the first number they’ll have on speed dial is the European Court of Human Rights. That way if an adult brushes past them, asks them a question or looks at them from an angle they find offensive, they’ll be through to Brussels in a jiffy. This fad for human rights for young people is madness. It isn’t just that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to have mobile phones in schools. They shouldn’t be allowed to have them full stop; they cause more trouble than they’re worth.  Think about happy-slapping. There was never a problem with children fighting each other until mobile phones came around.

I don’t envy the schools minister his job. Things are in a right state, and he must be seen to be doing something. But I can tell you right now that this is not going to do a damn bit of a good. This is because wars between groups of people (and let’s not kid ourselves here, this is a war, a war between good and evil) are not won through power. They are won through emotional manipulation and fear. Look at any war in recent history and you will see what I mean. Did Nixon win Vietnam through power? No. He won it by introducing the television series M*A*S*H to the American public, which shamed the Viet Cong into surrendering. When George W Bush raised the flag to announce “Mission Accomplished,” he was illustrating just how completely crazy he was, which frightened the Iraqis so much that we haven’t heard a peep out of them since.

Therefore I have a proposal for the Schools Minister. It is radical, I am aware. But when you lose control and you’ve got no soul, it’s a tragedy and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Each school in England, from infant to secondary, should be given a puppy. This puppy shall be kept on the premises, and part of the school budget should be ringfenced to include enough money to provide for the puppy’s food, medical treatment and personal caretaker. The puppy can function almost as the school’s mascot, and it’s a documented fact that animals can help the lonely and sad, so the puppy’s presence will help with morale in both the classrooms and staffroom.

More importantly, though, the puppy will function as the most effective weapon in the war on “nuisance pupils.” Whenever a child steals a rubber, passes a note or repeatedly stabs the games mistress, he will be escorted into the Puppy Room, where the student can hear but not see the puppy. There a teacher will read aloud the crime(s) the student has committed and will force the student to administer a shock to the puppy (volts and length of shock will vary according to the crime’s severity). The student will be able to hear the pathetic cries of the puppy, the innocent, cuddly puppy, the puppy this child has grown to love like the brother he never had, and he will have to accept that it is because he was bad that the puppy is suffering. Enforce this rule for one week and I guarantee you that behaviour will improve (any student not emotionally scarred for life by this experience should immediately be institutionalized—he is clearly a serial killer in the making).

Before you accuse me of unnecessary cruelty, I should stress that obviously the puppy is not really being shocked. The whole thing is faked, and the sounds of the distressed puppy are actually coming from an out of shot, struggling actor assigned to each school (another hidden benefit of this proposal—a reduction in dole queues nationwide). The point is the child believes his behaviour has harmed the animal and therefore will be so ashamed and frightened that he will shape up forthwith. It’s harsh, I know, but it works. I’ve cured many a godchild of the habit of chewing gum in public with this particular method, so I’ve evidence of its success rate.

Alas, I’m sure it would take someone of great courage to enact this policy, and we know that Mr Gibbs probably does not have the Balls to do it. I guess teachers should be thankful that they will also be granted anonymity in cases where a complaint has been made against them. I know my good friend Mr Stephen L Devoncourt of 22 Steeplechase Lane, Market Harborough (tel: 01645 321778) will be much relieved that the fistfight he had with his school’s head boy will now never be made public.

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