Thursday 30 October 2014

Oh dear – now the sisters are annoyed

Published 24/04/2014 | 02:30

Sheila Nunan, General Secretary INTO

Well, it's that time of the year again – the birds are tweeting (I mean the birds in the trees are singing, not that more women are using social media), the sun is beginning to make its first furtive appearances from behind the clouds and, of course, the teachers are revolting.

It's conference season and yet again the brains trust in ASTI and INTO have decided to remind the rest of us that juvenile delinquency isn't confined to one side of the classroom.

There's always something rather unedifying about a bunch of teachers misbehaving and roaring at a minister in a way that would have any of their pupils immediately dispatched down to the headmaster's office for a stern bollocking and a week's worth of detention. But then teachers have never been renowned for their consistency.

So kudos to Quinn for taking the metaphorical bull by the horns, even if he was greeted by one teacher with a rather more literal bullhorn when he turned up to talk to the ASTI delegates – because what better way to make your point than to smuggle a megaphone into the conference room and bellow into it?

Surely that's exactly the type of behaviour that would result in immediate confiscation and a disciplinary note if it happened in a classroom?

The problem teachers face is that they are already held in such low regard – unfairly, in many cases – by the parents of the kids they are supposed to be teaching that acting like a bunch of militant, agitating belligerents is hardly the best way to restore any sense of moral authority when they return to their own classroom.

What, for example, are the odds on some smart arse 16-year-old bringing his own megaphone into the classroom the next time that particular teacher starts to demand that his pupils pay attention to him?

And how would that teacher be able to keep a straight face when he tells the errant pupil that this is no way to behave in a civilised setting?

Professional, militant teachers often look rather ridiculous when dealing with other grown-ups – they have no punishment, no deterrent and no threat they can wield against someone who irks them. That's why they tend to lose the head completely when confronted with a minister they don't like or a journalist asking them awkward questions. These are people who like to be masters of their own little blackboard jungle when intimidating kids but they're woefully ill-equipped when it comes to mixing it up with other adults in the real world who aren't frightened of them.

But amidst all the huffing and puffing following the minister's rather tame remarks that it might be nice if the 85pc of national schoolteachers who are women showed more interest in maths, those wimmin who objected actually did more to prove any theories about the innate dangers of gender imbalance in any profession. And such a feminised imbalance is really dangerous when it comes to something as important as forming children's minds. And, as we all know, children are our most important natural resource – if only we could find a way of turning them into fuel.

Proving that people should be worried about the dangers of teaching becoming a female profession came from Sheila Nunan, INTO's general secretary who chirruped that: "It wasn't honours maths that made Irish women the way they are today, let me tell you. It was the boys who did the honours maths led the country to ruination."

Well, ain't that just peachy? Ain't that just absolutely grand – here we have someone who purports to be an educator and she fulminates against . . . edyookayshun.

I wonder what second level honours maths teachers think of one of their union colleagues from the primary school sector blaming the subject they teach for turning us into a bankrupt nation?

So maybe we should take La Nunan's advice and drop honours maths? Maybe we could replace it with a syllabus based entirely around feelings and emotions and self esteem?

In fact, following her logic, or lack of it, maybe we should get rid of maths altogether?

Or maybe, just maybe, Nunan and her sisterati should go back to the classroom where they can spout such moronic, misandrist drivel to people young enough to believe them.

But I wouldn't want any kid of mine taught by someone who thinks that scholastic achievement is a bad thing.

NOW FAR BE IT FROM ME TO...

There can be little doubt that some people like to see sexism, or racism or misogyny or homophobia, when and where it doesn't exist. That's not a paranoid conspiracy, it's simply a fact. For example, talk to any employment lawyer and they will happily tell you that if someone has a complaint against their boss, nothing eggs the pudding quite like having an 'ism' in their quiver – all the better to claim discrimination, my dear.

But that fine actress and determined defender of the Gurkhas in Britain, Joanna Lumley, really set the cat amongst the pigeons when she commented the other day that "being patted on the bottom is not an assault".

That may be the case – it's not actually, but bear with me – however, it's one sure way to guarantee to being assaulted in return.

After all, any woman who turned around and decked the person responsible can hardly be blamed for reacting in such a way.

This has nothing to do with the ever restrictive PC ninnies deciding how we can interact with each other – after all, an unwelcome hand on the bum is an unwelcome hand on the bum and the guilty party surely deserves whatever response he gets.

I'M PART OF A CONSPIRACY! AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT!

So, after yesterday's erudite, considered and blisteringly logical piece about climate change – ahem – some bright spark commented on the Indo comment site that: "Twice in the space of a week, Ian O'Doherty trots out material straight from the climate change deniers handbook . . . It is structured to undermine a global body of evidence, to heap scorn on those who have gathered it, to distort the findings and recommend-ations . . . this is not bonehead hackery, it is quite deliberate and uses the stupid-angry-man mode as cover for a political agenda formed outside this country."

Now as much as I would like to claim credit for being a part of a sinister political agenda that has been 'formed outside this country', I can assure terrified readers that I'm not.

And I can prove it – after all, I have applied to be part of several sinister international global conspiracies and none of them would have me.

The buggers.

Irish Independent

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