Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Peril of Grey Laces: The Bitter Root

Recently, Mr Johnston remembered to me, from the wrong side of a fish-and-chip counter, that when he was a scholar under me, I had informed him that if he continued to wear grey laces in his shoes, he would probably end up in prison. The teacher knows his influence when his doctrines are remembered above his lessons, and, no doubt, Mr Johnston was, with tremendous love and tact, hinting at the fallibility of my predictions. But I, reaching for the late-night saltand vinegar, was already congratulating myself on my propheticism.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My Dear Jerusalem,

   I have completed The Bitter Root and now feel sufficiently equipped to deal with my charges (wayward, or otherwise) for the remainder of my dwindling career. I have today purchased a new Toilet Book and a goodly vessel in which to catch the many children's tears I hope to engender over the coming weeks and months. If I ever again refer to a group of children as "guys" then I shall spend a period of time in The Pennance Room (my stock cupboard) until I feel that I have purged myself of this appalling Americanism; for – as you correctly point out - it is only in a vain effort to impress the mobile majority that I perpetuate such a crass and shallow piece of nomenclature in the first place.

   Your humble servant,


Post-script: Do I know the Mistress of Divinity to whom you refer in the book?

Dear Mr Henwick,

   God bless you, Sir, for your frank admission, though I am sure I have never heard you call the young scholars 'guys'. 

   I find that, once empty, the tiny bottles of soy sauce found in portions of supermarket sushi make excellent starter kits for those wishing to avail themselves of all the benefits visited upon that number who make it their business to collect children's tears in a bottle.  I have always suggested the aforementioned receptacle to student teachers operating under my guidance and I have never observed them to have been ill served by my so doing.

   With regards to the Mistress of Divinity; she was, and, I believe, still is, one Miss A_____ P_____, formerly of N_____ T_____ School and now of London town.  I can only hope that you have been blessed with the good fortune to know her, for I am, Sir,

   Your most humble and obedient servant,

   Jerusalem Andrews

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Arson Marker
Teacher charged with ‘constructive arson with intent to destroy marking’ can return to work says GTC
A teacher from Leeds who continued to park his cars on a notorious housing estate despite them being repeatedly set on fire has been told he can return to work.  Mark Butts, a geography teacher at Mappleton School, was suspended last May after being accused by his headteacher of “going out of his way to get his students’ work set on fire.”
A General Teaching Council disciplinary panel heard that Mr Butts, who has lost seven cars to arson on the Bridgeham Estate over an eighteen month period, continued to regularly park his car on the estate despite facing a five mile walk home and an annual insurance premium of £4567. 
But the GTC panel concluded that Mr Butts had done nothing wrong:
 “Mr Butt’s habit of packing his car with boxes of firelighters, sticks, sacks of coal, exercise books and GCSE coursework before parking it on a notorious housing estate five miles from his home is unusual,” said GCT panel chair Esther Richards, “but not unprofessional.  We mustn’t jump to conclusions.”
A fire crew struggles valiently to prevent work from being arson marked
Teaching union SNATWU have welcomed the decision to allow Mr Butts to return to work claiming that Mr Butt’s was a victim of his own diligence: “By taking work home Mr Butts has naively left himself wide open to completely unjustified accusations that he might be trying to get his marking destroyed in a fire.   We are strongly urging our members to safeguard their careers by never taking children’s work home.”
But the decision not to discipline Mr Butts has left at least one parent furious:
“Last Friday night my eldest set fire to his brother’s GCSE coursework and his sister’s Yr 8 Rainforest project without knowing.  It’s outrageous that this teacher is not going to be blamed in some way,” said one mother of three.
Mr Butts, who has always refused to say why he kept a cigarette lighter selloptaped to the petrol cap of his car, claimed the ruling was “a victory for common sense”, adding, “some of the work was of very poor quality anyway, and needed a lot of kindling to get going.”