A Snitch In Time

It never ceases to amaze me how children cannot help but make a fuss if they feel an injustice has been committed. The weird thing is that when I was in school, the snitch was the most frowned upon member of the school community. Let me quickly clear up the terms here though…

A snitch was OK if someone was doing something really bad: like bullying. I never saw any of that go on, but I know there would never be a problem on that score. What I mean is snitching because the snitcher is jealous of the fact that they haven’t been able to achieve what the people they’re snitching on have.

For example, today I went with the Year 5 pupils to a local zoo. A very good zoo. Most of the kids were desperate to go in my group, probably because I’m such a soft touch, but alas, only six of them were going to be lucky enough. Those lucky ones pushed the boundaries a little bit, but it would surprise me if any kid didn’t. But they were fine, and we had a nice time.

Unfortunately, they failed to tell me that they weren’t allowed in the play area. My group were at a loose end, and so when they asked if they could go in there for 10 minutes, I said they could. 10 minutes of fun in the play area followed, and we left shortly after. No harm done. Of course, why teachers need to make up such ridiculous rules in the first place, I don’t know, but there you go.

It later transpires that we were spotted by a rather bitter child from another group, who informed all and sundry, from teachers to other pupils, that we were in the play area. I knew nothing about the rule, so I didn’t know what the fuss was about until my kids told me what the problem was. My reaction: I shrugged my shoulders and dismissed it as simple jealously on the part of a fusspot kid. I suspect most people know the kind: the ones who are obsessed with rules, even daft ones, and will enforce them to the letter, to the point of snitching on people because they’re jealous of what they didn’t get to enjoy. I tried to make as little deal of it as possible, telling my group to just get on with it and ignore it, and the chances are the teacher won’t say anything to them… it was meant to be a fun day out anyway, and I don’t know why the teacher would want to ruin that.

But it was not possible to stop them fussing. Other kids couldn’t resist making snide comments – “You weren’t meant to go in there!” – and the like. It made it rather frustrating, because the result was that my kids had no choice but to start making up additional lies to wind people up in response, such as saying they went on the water ride when it was closed for the day.

The fussing continued further when we bought sweets that were probably a little unnecessary – large candy dummies – and other groups complained that they weren’t allowed to buy them. Then they other groups were moaning that we bought stuff from the vending machine when their group leader had not allowed them to do so. The constant nagging and attempts to outdo each other were very very boring. I don’t remember it ever being like this when I was there. It makes me really concerned that this is how pervasive the capitalist society has become…

And at the end of it all, there is not that much thanks. About the best compliment you get is normally coded in the form of “this was the best group” and “I liked this group because you know how we think” and that kind of thing. There’s nothing direct. I even gave one of the kids in my group half of my Twix because everyone else had had something and he hadn’t. I don’t remember him saying anything to thank me…

Then there were the teachers. I’ve already mentioned how I can’t stand them making up arbitrary rules… but I also hate the fact that they are constantly very defensive of their profession. They ask me if I still want to be a teacher: and I say yes, and they laugh. I would love to say to them: “if you really don’t like teaching, as you seem to be claiming, then why on Earth are you here?” I don’t have the guts. They don’t like the fact that other people are coming along, motivated by whatever it was that brought them into the profession in the first place and what they have since lost through becoming utterly jaded and out of date. Perhaps they’re jealous too.

And despite all this, it was a pretty good day: me and my group had a lot of fun. The above are just my observations. I don’t let them stand in the way, as it’s what I believe I would like to go into teaching to try to help change. It’s naively optimistic to think I can take on the whole of society, but there’s something that definitely needs changing and we have to start somewhere. I can only make a tiny difference, but anything is a start. All those other miserable teachers have to retire eventually…

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