Diary of a schoolteacher: We need to talk about Jamie - and not because of his muffin
This week in education a very important scientific discovery was made. To my surprise, I found out that a cup of coffee and two pieces of toast do not constitute a sufficient breakfast for me if I am to operate at optimum efficiency right up till the end of the second class period.
There I was, ten o'clock and half way through the first class, experiencing alarming hunger pangs and a grumbling of the stomach.
As soon as the bell rang, it was action stations and to hell with setting homework as I flung my books into my case and staggered into the corridor.
And then. . . what do I see before me, but the unlikeliest of visions: Jamie, terror of second year -- and he's stuffing a huge chocolate muffin into his face as fast as he can, getting it all over his face and dropping delicious-looking huge crumbs on to the floor.
"Gimme that muffin," I snarl, weak with ocras, as we teachers like to say.
"No! Feck off, Sir," the little brat says, spraying me with chocolate chips, "I'm finishing it before I go into your class."
I want to grab him by the shoulder and force him to hand it over, but we're not allowed to touch them.
"You can eat it in the class room if you give me half," I say, making him a reasonable offer.
But with a shake of the head he shoves the last chunk of the cake into his pudgy little face and then grins victoriously at me.
Now some of our experts in the various Irish educational quangos might shake their heads in disapproval at the above exchange.
Yes, I know that I shouldn't be trying to snatch muffins from my pupils with the sole intention of stuffing my face, and I suppose I really ought not to let them away with telling me to feck off -- but you see, Jamie has just been officially designated as suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and according to latest scientific reports, this arises from a genetic irregularity.
Well, strictly speaking, it's not really he who has been 'suffering' from ADHD; more like his teachers and the rest of his class. He's having fun.
But I really don't blame Jamie, especially since it's just been scientifically proven not to be his or his parents' fault, however unpleasant they might be.
Eureka! Now we know why he refuses to open a book in class, has done no homework for two years, laughs all through class and makes fun of his teachers -- but what can we teachers do about it?
Nobody wants kids with ADHD problems dumped into a behaviour ghetto, but why do we have no serious commitment to offering them a useful and relevant school experience?
Are the only strategies open to us just to ignore kids like him or continuously harass the parents until they get fed up and take them away?