The Weekend Australian - Review

THE LAST WORD

- ROBERT CRAMPTON

As the long-an­tic­i­pated, “what could pos­si­bly go wrong” re­turn to school gets un­der way in Europe, teach­ers are be­ing warned to look out for rowdy be­hav­iour among pupils strug­gling to read­just to life back in uni­form. Fair enough. His­tor­i­cally such prob­lems have al­ways flared even af­ter the six-week sum­mer hol­i­days, let alone a five-month break from the class­room.

The threat of be­ing sent home for “fake cough­ing” is a bit much though. I sus­pect there are go­ing to be enough kids dis­patched for real cough­ing with­out adding to the child­care chaos by pack­ing off the jok­ers as well.

Mind you, back in my day I was rou­tinely or­dered off the premises for al­low­ing my hair to reach my col­lar. And for wear­ing the wrong colour socks. OK, so the socks in ques­tion were pink and black hoops — rather taste­ful, I like to think — but even so, it was a bit dras­tic.

I got the red card for a suc­ces­sion of bru­tal bloody punch-ups in the play­ground too. But I sup­pose that was fair enough, given I started them all. Close­quar­ter full-contact com­bat should not be tol­er­ated, es­pe­cially in the mid­dle of a pan­demic.

Still, I guar­an­tee that in the next few weeks those al­ready deemed cheeky so-and-sos will get them­selves un­fairly binned. Good girls and nice boys will be in­dulged in any mis­de­meanours. Bad lads will be sum­mar­ily booted out for so much as a sneeze. My ex­pe­ri­ence sug­gests that com­ing from some­one with the wrong rep­u­ta­tion, even a real sneeze will be con­strued as a wind-up.

Some schools also say that go­ing to the wrong year-group bogs will be treated as a se­ri­ous dis­ci­plinary of­fence. If mem­ory serves, that won’t be some­thing teach­ers will have to worry about: go­ing to a loo likely to be in­hab­ited by big­ger boys was re­garded as pretty much a sui­cide mis­sion in 1978, and I don’t sup­pose things are dif­fer­ent in 2020. Although those pupils be­ing ad­vised to bring two litres of bot­tled wa­ter from home may not have much choice.

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