Sunday, June 26, 2005

Feral Children again

The Observer | Review | Observer review: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare
According to this book, there is an underclass of feral children in Britain. I trained as a teacher in Leeds nearly thirty years ago, and in the tough secondary modern where I did my teaching practice, I could have taught the fathers of these kids. The difference then was that there was no drug problem, beyond the odd bottle of cheap cider shared behind the bike sheds. Some of the kids were in trouble with the police because of shop lifting, there were occasional fights, and, memorably, the bus company refused to lay on buses after some boys set fire to a bus while they were still on it. Even so, I was never threatened by a pupil, and most days passed without any major incident. Most of the boys (it was an all boys school) had relatively stable family backgrounds, and unemployment was low. They could expect to land a factory job on leaving school. True, things were getting bad in the traditional heavy industries, but Thatcherism was still a few years off. I don't look back on it with rose coloured spectacles - it could be grim at times - the boys thought Kes was great, because it was so like their own lives - but nothing like the complete breakdown of structure indicated by this book and other sources such as Theodore Dalrymple.
The comparison in the review to the City of God children is a chilling one, but one that seems justified. In the midst of our affluence, we are harbouring a third-world street culture where violence, crime and death are the currency of everyday life.

2 comments:

Morning-Loves-It said...

I read a fascinating review of this book in another newspaper. My partner did his teacher training around the same time as you but in Inner London and that was tough.

He's just returned to teaching after a break and says that the children in counties like Somerset are now as unruly as the Inner London ones were thirteen years ago when he left. And of course many of the girls are the same.

Your last sentence brings it home when you say 'midst of our affluence' and liken it to a third world street culture. I'm doing Global Cities in Social Sciences right now Which covers so much and have now placed the link to George Monbiot onto my desktop and of course will make sure I reference him correctly in my assignments as he writes stuff that'll make me think - and I need that.

The Clive James link is a good one as he simply makes me laugh. See how useful Blogging is in sharing?

Rob Spence said...

It's all about sharing - now we can have a cyber group hug...:-)