What a good idea (even if it is unworkable)!  Pupils at an ‘outstanding’ secondary school in Birmingham will be introduced to ‘silent’ corridors from 5 November (this rule will be reviewed at the end of the autumn term).  If pupils are caught talking as they walk to and from lessons, they will apparently face a 20-minute detention.

One Twitter user states that this new rule contravenes UNICEF’s document on children’s rights.  Staff at the school say the no-talking rule prepares children better for learning.

This has made me remember when I was at my London secondary school back in the 1970s. The headmistress used to prowl the corridors just at the times when we had to change rooms for a different lesson. As soon as we saw her we not only had to stop talking, we had to ‘freeze’ and not even move until she had walked past.  She must have thought she was at Madame Tussauds Waxworks or something.  None of us girls dared move a muscle. We were so in awe of her!

I cannot remember what the punishment was if we started moving, but the fact of the matter was that we were scared shitless of the woman, who was formidable.  She had our respect, and so the rule was easy to apply.  However, nowadays there is no respect for anybody in authority, and so staff at the school are going to spend a lot of time taking detentions when they should have been sitting in the staff room recuperating from trying to cram knowledge into unwilling heads.

And then there are the parents.  Dad used to tell me that if I got the cane at school I’d get another hiding when I got home.  This of course made me somewhat ‘economical with the truth’ on the one time I did get the cane, but today’s parents will be in uproar that little Johnny has been given detention, and will be up the school teacher-bashing.

Ah yes … detentions.  Our whole class were given detention after school one summer’s afternoon (I cannot remember why) when I was 11.  None of us were allowed to go home until we had learned by heart all the words of the French national anthem.  To this day I can still recite it.  Can you imagine something like that happening today?

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