Tuesday, 20 April 2010

100 lines - I must watch more Bruce Willis films until I see teenage boys for the weedy, illiterate little oiks they really are.

Yikes. Boys, postcards like this are a sign that your teacher needs to get out more.

The second news story to catch my attention was that of Hannah McIntyre, the teacher acquitted of seducing a sixth form student.

I’ve thought for a while that the laws should be changed to protect those accused of sexual crimes; they should be anonymous until they are found guilty. As the law stands, anyone accused of a crime has their name dragged through the mud before any evidence has been heard.

Having said this, wouldn’t it be prudent also to pay closer attention to the relationship between students and teachers?

Hannah McIntyre opened the door to three students while “drinking wine in her pyjamas.” Ok, that was stupid, but not everyone has a peep hole.

She told the court “They barged in. They were very loud and boisterous. I asked them to leave but they did not take any notice. I was trying to be non-confrontational – not trying to provoke anything.”

She tried to get them out of the flat by saying she had to go out to the local shop. They followed her and persuaded her to buy them cider, then returned to her flat to drink it.

Wait. Hold on a second. She was trying to get them out of her flat, this I can understand. It would be intimidating to have three large teenage boys in your house, and I would probably try to get them out at any cost, too. But they managed to “persuade” her to buy them drink, and then they “followed” her back?

In the end, she went to bed leaving the boys downstairs in her living room. She didn’t call the police, thinking the boys would get in trouble with the school and make life in her classroom even more difficult than it already was. (She was “bullied” in her classes.)

Another recent case of a teacher accused – and acquitted – of seducing a 16-year-old boy was that of Teresa McKenzie. Like Miss McIntyre, the whole situation was muddied by her own insane actions.

During the course of her supervision of the unnamed teenager, Mrs McKenzie exchanged hundreds of text messages and calls with him, as well as sending him love letters. In one, she described how she couldn't concentrate on a school meeting for thinking of his “beautiful eyes, strawberries-and-cream hair, soft hands, gorgeous laugh, strong shoulders and delicious lips,” and “Such sweet anticipation makes my heart race.”

(To think, the only notes I got from my teachers were “Could do better” and “This is not an hour’s work”.)

In another, she wrote to her “gorgeous pirate. Dreaming of hiring a pirate ship and sailing across the seven seas, finding a deserted beach, just palm trees and lapping waves, soft sand and hot sun. What do you think? Would you like to come?. . . Ah, it would be bliss, even for one day, to play...I will love you forever and ever and ever xxxxxxxx.”

She told the court that the first letter was an attempt to emulate the language of Shakespeare, since Romeo and Juliet was being taught in class, while the second was a “silly” idea to try to make John smile, sparked by the game of pirates she had played with her pupils earlier in the day.

Later she said “I'm the sort of person who sends a lot of gushing cards. To now think that they might be interpreted in the context of some kind of sexual relationship makes me feel sick.”

Let’s just say, it might be best if she didn’t teach any more.

Now, am I crazy, or has the teacher / pupil relationship got weird lately? There seem to be more and more of these stories popping up, always with a background of phone calls and texts. Is it etiquette now to be facebook friends with your students? Is it essential that they have your home number, in case they have a question about the homework?

Personally I can’t think of anything worse, as an adult, to be available to students 24/7. And thinking back to my school days, I can’t think of anything nerdier than wanting your teacher’s number and actually using it for non-prank calls. What’s wrong with the kids of today? Has Bart Simpson taught them nothing?

The only thing weirder is grown women even beginning to contemplate relationships with teenage boys. (Outside of Sweet Valley High books, they are uniformly sullen and unattractive.) The last time I fancied anyone aged sixteen, I was about twelve.

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