Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Kevin Johann The Teenager

When I was sixteen, I dropped out of school, and sank.
And now here you are, writing for the ‘Indy’, who are apparently only too happy to accept any old rubbish.

You’ve clearly not done too badly…
In his new series on Channel Four, ‘Jamie’s Dream School’, the TV chef gathers together twenty disaffected kids who have dropped out of school with lousy GCSEs. He then asks some of the smartest people in Britain to teach and inspire them.
For a TV show. Not for a serious look at the standard of teaching and the quality of young people in this country.
From the moment I started secondary school, I instinctively hated it. I remember on the first day being given a timetable, looking at it, and thinking: “Who are these people? How dare they tell me what I’ll be doing every Wednesday afternoon at two o’clock?
I can see why he gravitated to journalism...
I spent most of my school-days in the arcades at the Trocadero Centre in central London. There, a United Nations of bunking kids from across the city would master Street-Fighter II , PacMan and Mario Kart, our version of the three Rs.
/facepalm
Of the kids I hung out with then, some of us have gone on to be successful, and some have continued to sink. What was the difference? It wasn’t intelligence: people smarter than me didn’t make it. Nor was it determination, or decency, or discipline. It was something much simpler – and it is what the teachers at Dream School have found to be the key with their kids. It was forming a bond with a loving adult.
Oh-er! Just where is this going?

It’s ok, he means a teacher, one who is prepared to put up with his stroppy nature and coax him to achieve:
I’m sure it wasn’t easy to offer that first encouragement to a kid who acted like he didn’t want or need it. But my sense of self began to change. I began to think of myself, for the first time, as somebody who was competent, and good at things.
Just what ARE you good at, then? It clearly isn’t journalism.
I’m not naïve about this. It’s a ferociously hard job to nurture and love kids like who behave in this way.
Surely the question we should ask is ‘Is the effort worth it?’. Looking at your contribution to society, I’d have to say the jury’s still out…
The rapper Plan B has talked about how his educational misery-go-round was only ended when his school set up a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) – a calm place where he could be taken out of lessons to go to be given one-on-one attention by sympathetic and consistent teachers who wanted to hear why he was having so much trouble.
*grinds teeth*

And that cost how much, and gave us…what? A rapper? Bargain!
There were a few (too small) steps towards it under the last government: All over Britain, SureStart picked up poor babies and toddlers to help their mothers bond with them. PRUs massively grew. Voluntary groups like Kid’s Company were much better funded. Kids falling behind in schools were given guaranteed one-on-one tuition, in the program called Every Child A Reader. Now even those baby-steps towards baby-sanity are being dismantled by the Tories.
Good. Let’s start celebrating success, and not cosseting and rewarding failure.

22 comments:

Gordo said...

Behave badly and be given one-to-one tuition and access to a pool table and dart board during school hours. What about the kids who don't behave badly or play truant? WTF do they get?

If he wanted this " forming a bond with a loving adult " outside his own family he could have joined NAMBLA.

Richard said...

"When I was sixteen, I dropped out of school..."

Or, to use the common parlance, 'left'.

Richard said...

Gordo, correct. When I was a teacher, it was plain that the worse a pupil behaved, the more time and attention (=resources) he or she got. The well-behaved and compliant were to some extent ignored - and of course that included most of the bright ones.

If you were really bad, you got stuff like free holidays.

Mark said...

'Oh-er! Just where is this going?'
My reaction exactly Julia; especially when I read
'I spent most of my school-days in the arcades at the Trocadero Centre in central London'- and thought the article was morphing into 'The Secret Diary of a Rent Boy'.

PT said...

It's a pity we haven't any sizeable deserts in the UK, deserts so big they can't just walk out of them. Forty days and forty nights sounds about right, long enough for these precious youngsters to think about priorities, and try to find within themselves some talents and the motivation to use them.

staybryte said...

Walk out of deserts? Dear Johann prefers desserts so big you can walk into them.

Four Rs said...

And all shall have prizes.

Especially the ones who are useless. It makes the adults feel so much better.

Anonymous said...

It was forming a bond with a loving adult

So the answer is plenty of one-to one-attention. Now if only there were a person responsible for a small group of children, someone 'sympathetic and consistent' who could instruct and inform children while giving them the chance to 'bond with a loving adult'.

Hey, we could even have a name for these people - we could call them parents!

Only parents have had other things on their minds; sixteen years ago, Jenni Murray boasted on Womans' Hour that Britain had more working mothers of babies and under-fives than any other country in Europe.

Go figure!

Captain Haddock said...

And the best part of this individual .. slowly trickled down his mother's thigh !

mitchell-images said...

Quite honestly, this makes me sick. I have a friend who owns a motor cross track, complete with top of the range bikes. The vast bulk of his bookings come from orginisations who deal with young criminals, problem kids etc. Local 'good' kids cant afford this kind of activity, they have to watch in awe as these young car theives etc tear around the track, all paid for by ....

Greencoat said...

Come on - this is a spoof, right?

Surely nobody on earth could be that much of a sanctimonious twat.

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

Hari's just a male version of Polly Toynbee with a smaller arse but without the menopausal paranoia.

Anonymous said...

Just watching Jamie's latest promotional stunt on TV now.

No need for a Midsomer-style complaint with this motley crew...

Even the wannabees have joined in, viz "Latoya" with with her daughter...Akeela. Who saw that name coming ?

SadButMadLad said...

"Of the kids I hung out with then, some of us have gone on to be successful, and some have continued to sink."

Including Johann himself.

Anonymous said...

mitchell-images said...

Local 'good' kids cant afford this kind of activity, they have to watch in awe as these young car theives etc tear around the track, all paid for by ....


Labour's legacy..if you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

PJH said...

"[...] a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) – a calm place where he could be taken out of lessons to go to be given one-on-one attention[...]"

We had that when I was at school in the '70's. Only it wasn't called a PRU.

Bring back capital[1] punishment!!!


[1] Or did I mean corporal? It's one of them anyway ;)

periwinkle said...

The one time I (and 2 friends) bunked off, we went to an auction at Sotheby's. The Trocadero?? Johann and his gang obviously had no class.

Woman on a Raft said...

Johann attended the sixth form Woodhouse College on the mean streets of er, leafy North Finchley and Friern Barnet, which doesn't exactly fit with his claims to have dropped out, which would also be deeply inconsistent with getting in to Kings College Cambridge.

Though he didn't much like school and Woodhouse don't even list him as an alumni, he must have done fairly well at GCSEs in 1996, taken A levels at Woodhouse in 1998 and snapped along to Cambridge. He might have managed to fit a couple of months in of goofing-off, but maybe he's confusing the summer hols with dropping out?

Nope, if Johann has been successful it shows that some people still managed, even in the late 1980s, to get the equivalent of a grammar school education, complete with all those tiresome lessons, homework and examinations.

JuliaM said...

"What about the kids who don't behave badly or play truant? WTF do they get?"

I'd say 'An education', but probably they don't...

"...and thought the article was morphing into 'The Secret Diary of a Rent Boy'."

:D

"Walk out of deserts? Dear Johann prefers desserts so big you can walk into them."

*chuckle*

"Hey, we could even have a name for these people - we could call them parents!"

Quite. Schools don't START these kids on the road to nowhere, do they?

JuliaM said...

"Local 'good' kids cant afford this kind of activity, they have to watch in awe as these young car theives etc tear around the track, all paid for by ...."

And they'll soon make the connection that hard work and effort doesn't pay off half as well as being the squeaky wheel that gets all the taxpayer-funded grease..

"Hari's just a male version of Polly Toynbee with a smaller arse..."

Not that much smaller!

"..."Latoya" with with her daughter...Akeela. "

GAH!

"Johann and his gang obviously had no class."

Heh!

"Johann attended the sixth form Woodhouse College on the mean streets of er, leafy North Finchley and Friern Barnet..."

What is it with lefties and their florid imaginations? He's yet another @PennyRed...

Pat said...

Any program of education reform that depends on having better teachers is bound to fail. We have the teachers we have- we can't breed better ones. Assembling a hand picked bunch of teachers, as at Eton and Harrow and apparantly in this program will only produce better results in the place they are assembled.
Better to give teachers and especially pupils an incentive to perform. How about a school leaving exam- so bright kids who want to get out have qan incentive to work, and teachers who want to get rid of disruptive pupils have an incentive to teach?

Anonymous said...

Johann's teenage years playing arcade games sounds almost as sad as running a blog and playing World of Warcraft.