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LOST TRIBES The People's Memories.

Byline: Ken Rogers

OWN the years I have supported school industry days to highlight the career merits of journalism.

DWith juniors I have focused on the themes of well known children's books. Little Red Riding Hood is dramatic when written as modern breaking news story: "Little girl saved from wolf at grandmother's house!" With older students, I have staged lively press conferences with imaginary pop stars or famous footballers, urging my 'junior reporters' to focus on the importance of concentration, listening, subject knowledge, an ability in group situations to confidently ask relevant questions, accurate note taking, and deadlines - all disciplines to support the National Curriculum.

At the very least, a journalism session has to be a welcome break from double maths. Equally, there have been moments when it has been clear that classroom anarchy is increasingly problematic.

I recently read how out-of-control pupils threw food and jostled a group of Ofsted inspectors at a 1,430-pupil Academy in the West Midlands, ranked inadequate in every single area of a scathing report.

This week, I smiled when I read a review of a book entitled 'The Enigma of Kidson' about Michael Kidson, a no-nonsense former Eton College master who, between 1965 and 1995, taught students including future Prime Ministers and Archbishops. He kept their feet firmly on the ground with cutting and honest comments on school reports that today would inevitably invoke a disciplinary hearing.

These days some schools try to win hearts and minds of pupils by constantly telling them how wonderful they are and what a credit they are to themselves and parents - often reflected in end of term awards in which everybody walks away with a prize.

Praise is crucial when deserved, dangerous when it's not. Eton master Kidson would not think twice about hurling a missile at any pupil who was disruptive. He put pushy parents firmly in their place and yet it appears that while he was a maverick, he was utterly inspiring and admired by everyone, so much so that in retirement former pupils organised a moving tribute dinner in his honour.

Perhaps we can learn a lot from Kidson's old school style. I would certainly not condone any physical solutions, but you can't have the tail wagging the dog, to use an old fashioned phrase. You won't get respect simply by always telling kids how great they are. Like my grandmother used to say: "Sometimes a bit of tough love is the only answer." | kenrogers

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2017
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