As my long term readers are aware I'm not a fan of the teaching profession. I've met less than ten primary or secondary teachers who weren't either thick, socially inadequate, incapable of answering a resonable question or derranged. So I may be slightly biased.

Newsnight Scotland has just ended with an item about the next EIS general meeting where they will be putting forward a motion to ban the army from schools. It took a while to get the reason for this out of the teachers represtitive. He's lucky I wasn't presenting I'd have bellowed 'answer the question, you impertinant boy' at the top of my lungs and if that didn't work I'd have adopted a sarcastic tone and asked if he wanted to stand up and tell the rest of the nation what the teachers were whispering about. As usual I was not presenting Newsnight so I had to content myself with shouting at the telly.

It eventually emerged that the reason was that joining army carries a risk of death and if the army are allowed into schools it might appear that teachers are endorsing a career in the army. Why he didn't just tell the truth and state that it was a witless bit of anti-Iraq protest is beyond me. Lord knows I took a dim view of the Iraq war but I blame the government rather than the army who as far as I understand, go where they're sent.

I was also alarmed at the idea the nations schoolchildren are too thick to understand the risks involved in joining the armed services. One would have thought the teaching profession would be embarrassed to admit that despite all their hard work Scotland's teenagers are such numpties. If teachers are telling us that children who have been in school since early childhood are by their teens incapable of listening to a presentation, considering what has been said and researching the options open to them, then I would like to know how the teaching profession intends to tackle this crisis. I wonder if it's the evidently low opinion of those charged with educating them that as at least in part responsible for their alleged stupidity.

The army argue that they only go to schools where they have been invited and do not actively recruit but instead give general career talks and let the pupils make there own minds up. Good Lord conveying information and expecting people to think! What an innovative strategy, has anyone considered putting them in charge of teacher training?

Do the teachers imagine that the army are hypnotising the children? I used to attend every recruitment talk going, including the armed services who were never away from the school. I had no more intention of joining the armed forces than I did of turning into a double bass. I was skiving and nothing said during any recruitment talk was going to alter that. Out of my year at school three people joined the armed forces which they'd wanted to do since childhood. No amount of reasoning would deflect them from their aim. As I recall it was two years of army life that convinced two of them they'd made a terrible mistake.

If teachers would prefer the pupils in their care not to join the army, then they'd be better to make their classes interesting and try to convey a sense of enthusiasm for a career in that discipline, rather than prevent their pupils from hearing one view of an army career.

Later in the week I intend to go mad about the appointment of a 'Respect Czar' and the plans to prevent under eighteens from viewing film that contain scenes of smoking in them.


RYokozuna said...

Indeed, although most of the people who i went to school with who decided to join the army did so not because of any sense of patriotic duty but instead for altogether more sinister motives. I remember one of them looking me straight in the eye and telling me with total sincerity that "i just want to be able to kill someone and not go to jail".... I sleep altogether more soundly knowing that we have such hardworking, motivated and trustworthy people working so tirelessly to kill everything that moves.

Jeff said...

Well, I think teachers do a sterling job for this country. Their tireless work will ensure that Britain remains a centre of excellence for education and will be an example for all the world to see.

Sorry, I thought I was standing for the Deputy Labour leadership contest for a second there. (I do think you're a bit harsh on teachers though).

And the Army recruiting in schools? I'm not convinced it's such a good idea. Conveying information is tantamount to recruiting in my book. And making a bad career move into accountancy can lead to dull chat and a love for brown clothing. A bad career move into the army and you end up with a leg blown off or worse, before wondering what you were doing out in Afghanistan anyway.

We need older soldiers, and a good start might be to get our army boys and girls back home from Iraq where even the Iraqi government doesn't want us anymore. That might help take the pressure off having to get 16 and 17 year olds involved at too early a stage.

the ill man said...

A bad career move by joining the army may well see you come back in a body bag, but if someone lacks the imagination, even at sixteen, to understand that this may happen, then theres not an awful lot anyone can say or do to divert them, and nor should there be.....

chucking them out of schools smacks of an obsession with the idea that people of a certain age are incapable of coming to their own conclusions.

Jeff said...

I don't know, given that a surprisingly high percentage of the girls in my school found themselves pregnant before they were 18, and boys are meant to be even more immature at that age, I think it's safe to say that many schoolkids aren't the best at thinking ahead and coming to the correct conclusion on how a certain decision might affect them in the future.

Of course "people of a certain age" (or kids as I like to call them) don't make good decisions when they're at school, what do they know about the world? I mean, I chose Maths as a university subject, what a fool I was back then........

iLL Man said...

Ok, maybe if kids want to join the army, they will, regardless of whether the army turn up at careers talks or not, but I disagree with the notion that senior school children are incapable of making an informed decision about a possible career. Are you seriously suggesting in this day and age that people join the army without knowledge of the risks it might involve?

Jeff said...

Yes, I am seriously suggesting that.

I think there's a difference to a childishly vague appreciation that "if I join the army then I might die in a war somewhere" and an appreciation of just how dire and shocking the "theatre" of war is out in Iraq/Afghanistan etc.

I think adults struggle with it so it makes sense that kids will be even more ignorant of what life is actually like in the thick of a war like the Iraq one.

I think school kids, of any age, are too young to decide if that's an arena they want to mix themselves in. And I question the motives of army recruiters when they visit schools.

Britain needs an army, and if older/wiser people are knowledgable enough to give deployment in seriously war-torn countries a miss, then we do have to question the ethics of recruiting kids into these areas.

iLL Man said...

How old is "older/wiser"? I believe you vastly underestimate the ability of 15/16 year olds to make their mind up about such a career.

Agree to differ I suppose.....

julie M said...

For a lot of people, joining the army isn't about patriotism or wanting to kill, it's simply a way out of poverty and maybe learning a trade. Many of them think no further than that.

When I was at uni, people used to join the TA because you could learn to drive for free, and you also got paid money and it was a lot for a student. You got £1000 if you were in 1st year, £2000 if you were in 2nd, £3000 for 3rd and £4000 for 4th. (This was in 1988.) The drawback was that you could be called up for action up to 12 years after you left the TA. Extremely tempting to a hard up student, but not without drawbacks.

RYokozuna said...

All i was suggesting was that this was my experience when i lived on a small Scottish island.

I know that not all the people who want to join the Army are murderous psychopaths but where i lived it seemed a large percentage were.

It's also not just the fact that people who join up end up dodging bullets and bombs just to pay for a mortgage on their house and keep their kids fed and clothed. It's also that once they have done their servive they are discarded without care.

Try talking to builders, lorry drivers, bus drivers, security guards and people like them some time. Where do you think most of these guys came from? Most of the people i worked with on the buses were ex service. Do you think they wanted to end up as bus drivers being spat at by kids or being called a stupid cunt by ignorant city twats in suits?

Sad fact is that nobody gives two fucks about these people as soon as they have served their time. One guy i used to eat lunch with was obviously suffering from some deep psychological issues. Not fucking suprising when you consider that his mate was shot by a sniper when he served in Bosnia. I also remember him talk about the time that he slept in a village where the streets were filled with dead bodies after a massacre?

It kind of put my little life worries into perspective and no mistake.

Clairwil said...

I wouldn't advise anyone to join the army, nor would I advise anyone not to. There are as many who thrive in that environment as there are victims. One could also apply the loss of life, physical injury, mental trauma argument to joining the police force, the fire brigade, driving a bus, boxing or other dangerous sports. Like it or not fighting, death and violence are part of life. Babying teenagers does them no favours.

Banning the armed services from schools is patronising and has more to do with ill feeling about the Iraq war and the posturing of staffroom 'radicals' than anything else. If teachers are so concerned about army casualties perhaps they could devote their energies to setting up a hardship fund for ex-servicemen or lobbying the government to fund the army properly. That the army of the fourth richest country are nicknamed 'the borrowers' because they are foreced to borrow basic equipment from the US army is appalling not to mention a risk to the lives of soldiers. It has been argued that Gordon Gentle's death was in part due to a lack of equipment.

One of my clients who left the army years ago suddenly started having what I suppose one might call 'flashbacks' to two occasions when he'd been caught up in bombings whilst in Northern Ireland. I'd be equally happy for him to pop into schools and give the kiddiewinks a rounded picture of army life. Though as he would tell you himself, his first six years in the army were the happiest of his life.

Katy Newton said...

My cousin John joined the army, or was it the navy? Who knows? Anyway, he signed up to become a lethal killing machine when he was sixteen and left a couple of months later when he realised that you have to get out of bed early every single day.

Children need more information, not less, and should be encouraged to think for themselves. And to take some risks, actually. I think that the idea of not letting the army come and talk to children at a secondary school about a career in the army is fucking ridiculous. It's at times like this when I find the words "it's political correctness gone mad" floating across the forefront of my brain.

Clairwil said...

Yes Katy it's fair aroused my inner outraged of Tunbridge Wells.

On a different topic I see our fav blogger/guilty pleasure is in the clink. 'This court is a farce'!

Pisces Iscariot said...

Funny you should be on about teachers... I've just vented my spleen on the subject of these creatures over at The Far Queue
And as for joining the military - don't do it, I spent some time at the behest of my Vaderland and believe me, it's not a good idea.

David Duff said...

The army is both character-building and a splendid career choice - look what it did for me!

(Sorry, didn't quite catch that ...)

Clairwil said...

Well you've got at least a books worth of anecdotes. If the pension is good and it didn't send you mad, I reckon you've come out on top.

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