Wednesday, July 23, 2008

...and how much they haven't

Now most head teachers are chosen because they possess a number of fine qualities. They understand children and they have the children's best interets at heart. They are sympathetic. They are fair and they are deeply interested in education. Miss Trunchbull possessed none of these qualities and how she ever got her present job was a mystery.
"There is a little girl in my class called Matilda Wormwood..." Miss Honey began....
"...Now what is it you want, Miss Honey? Why are you wasting my time?
"I came to talk to you about Matilda, Headmistress. I have extraordinary things to report about the child. May I please tell you what happened in class just now?"
"I suppose she set fire to your skirt and scorched your knickers!" Miss Trunchbull snorted.
...Miss Honey was determined to have her say and she now began to describe some of the amazing things Matilda had done with arithmetic.
"So she's learnt a few tables by heart has she?" Miss Trunchbull barked. "My dear woman, that doesn't make her a genuis! It makes her a parrot!"
"It is my opinion," Miss Honey said "that Matilda should be taken out of my form and placed immediately in the top form with the eleven-year-olds."
"Ha!" snorted Miss Trunchbull. "So you want to get rid of her, do you?..."
"No, no!" cried Miss Honey. "That is not my reason at all!"
"Oh, yes it is!" shouted Miss Trunchbull. "I can see right through your little plot, madam! And my answer is no! Matilda stays where she is and it is up to you to see that she behaves herself."
"But Headmistress, please."
"Not another word!" shouted Miss Trunchbull. "And in any case, I have a rule in this school that all children remain in their own age groups regardless of ability. Great Scott, I'm not having a little five-year-old brigand sitting with the senior girls and boys in the top form. Whoever heard of such a thing!"
From Roald Dahl's Matilda.

What has changed: today's education establishment would recast the teacher as a pushy "helicopter parent," deluded that her child is a genius, and the principal as the good guy, concerned about whether "the whole child" can handle such a grade skip.

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