Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage compiled by David Gribble





And in 2010: Rules






Extracts from interviews conducted in 2010 with twenty students, aged between 11 and 15, who had transferred to Sands School, Ashburton, because of their experiences at other schools.


'What sort of rules were there?'

'All sorts. You had to do what you were told all the time, you weren't allowed to use calculators, or anything like that. A lot of the rules were really strict and uptight, so it didn't give you much freedom.'


'There was quite a lot of rules. I mean, it wasn't – I don't know, it's kind of difficult to explain, but you weren't allowed to run anywhere, for instance, which made it sort of difficult, you weren't allowed to talk a lot in lessons, and I think that's difficult if you wanted to share your point and stuff on a subject that you feel passionate about because if you're not allowed to share it, then there's not really any point in going to your lessons, and if you didn't go to a lesson then you would get detention or something like that, or get into trouble or you get suspended which isn't too good.'


'Some of the rules were really not working, like we weren't allowed to run around, there was nowhere where we could, like, let off energy or anything, so you had to just stand around in break time and wait for lessons to start again because there wasn't really anything you could do apart from sit on benches and things, and you were told off or got into trouble if you did run or anything, which just meant that there were loads of hyper kids in the class, who couldn't let go of any energy or steam or anything. It didn't really work for the poor teachers who were trying to teach a class of really hyper children.'


'I started realising that there were also a lot of boundaries there, which as I got older I realised, like they had a thing that you couldn't talk to girls, which was quite weird and very old-fashioned. The teachers came up to you and said, "You shouldn't be talking to girls." And they tried to impose a six-inch rule and that sort of thing, which happened in my father's school. It was quite strange happening now.'


'What sort of rules were there?'

'The uniform rules. You could get a detention if your top button wasn't done up, and if your shirt wasn't tucked it, and there were like language rules, or if you didn't address a teacher as Mr or Mrs or if you were chewing gum, or if you had an iPod in the school you'd get it confiscated for a week, or a phone, so rules that were pretty extreme, actually, but are still pretty prevalent in all mainstream schools.'


'Do you think it was sensible to rebel in the school?'

'I think some things that people rebelled against were sensible, because they were just petty rules, and some people, like, if they didn't wear their tie properly didn't think it was important, which I don't think it's important, so I think to rebel against something like that is understandable and right.'