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IS there, in general, a correlation between 'less clever' and 'badly behaved'?

(76 Posts)
gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 11:28:55

I say 'in general' to avoid the inevitable 25 replies telling how "there's this one boy in DS's top maths set who's really ill disciplined" etc etc. Of course there may well be, but that's not what 'in general' means!

Like many of us, I'm researching secondaries which will hopefully suit both my DSs when the time comes. DS1 is reasonably clever, but DS2 is average. Trouble is, so many of the parents I talk to with DCs in these schools tend to tell me about how their averagely attaining DC can't learn anything in their average ability 'set' because the teacher spends all their time dealing with bad behaviour, yet I rarely hear this about DCs in the top sets, and the schools seem to get good enough GCSE results, presumably on the backs of their more able students. Why?

It's all a bit 'new' to me becasue I went to a grammar where they had the ability to chuck bad behaviour out (and did from time to time!) thus generally we were well behaved BUT of course we were all much of a muchness intellectually and could therefore keep up.

Could it be because there are some DCs in the 'average' set who are really too clever to be there BUT come from neglectful family backgrounds who don't value education thus fail to get 'the runs on the board' necessary to achieve better? OR is that a sap to the 'my child is badly behaved in school because he's gifted but the stupid school can't see that' brigade?

Or should we be, as a nation, acknowledging that many less academically clever DCs should follow a completely different system of education which might engage them more that 'watered down' academia?

Or should we be far more strict about discipline, with more exclusions to Pupil Referral Units for the badly behaved? Should home/school contracts be 'enforced'?

Could the parental 'desperation' to get one's DCs into Private be because private schools select if not academically but socially AND if a parent pays through the nose, they're far more likely to be interested in the outcome thus are more 'on side'? AND the Head is far more likely to stamp on bad behaviour or risk losing pupils and money.

Originally I though what I wanted for my DSs was a truly 'comprehensive' school which took and appropriately educated all comers- but I'm increasingly finding that what meets our needs is a nice 'middle class valued' school in a nice leafy area, (as it were), where the DCs, regardless of academic ability, learn, at home, how to behave thus don't come into school and wreck my less able DS's future.

ADragonIs4LifeNotJustHalloween Mon 20-Oct-08 11:31:01

I think sometimes the "less clever" pupils see no point in learning and therefore feel it's Ok to muck about since they get no satisfaction or enjoyment from lessons. The brighter children would tend to be more motivated as they enjoy what they're doing and are thus more motivated to learn.

UnfortunatelyMurderedMe Mon 20-Oct-08 11:33:27

I can see where you are coming from, however, middle class(money) doesn't always equal inteligence or good behaviour.
The school having a zero disruption policy would wipe out your concerns.

Tortington Mon 20-Oct-08 11:38:23

i know my eldest son was badly behaved as a diversionary tactic becuase he just couldnt do the work.

for him - an apprenticehsip type thing at age 14 full time would have been better than school - with a concentration on english and maths.

my other son is v.v.v. bright, but just didnt really care much until this year - becuase he is v. immature. i think its suddenly hit him over the past two weeks that soon he will be expected to either go to college or work

and i think he is shitting a brick

childrenofthecornsilk Mon 20-Oct-08 11:39:35

I think there's a correlation between needs not being met and badly behaved, but that can apply to any ability group.

MadreInglese Mon 20-Oct-08 11:41:55

In general I think that clever children put into top sets will be sufficiently challenged and occupied so that they won't feel the need to misbehave.

Bored and unchallenged clever kids can be just as badly-behaved as 'less clever' ones.

GooseyLoosey Mon 20-Oct-08 11:42:01

In answer to your general question - no I don't think that there is a correlation between bad behaviour and "less clever". However, I do think that there is a correlation between accademically successful and well behaved.

It was clear to me from my own schooling that by a certain age some children saw no point in school - it was not going to deliver them anything and therefore they were not going to participate in it. They were hell to have in a class. My contrast, those who were doing well did see a point to it all and generally therefore saw a reason to cooperate with the system.

It is a fallacy that all children are capable of great accademic achievement. They are not and we do those children who would be better suited to learning different skills no service by teaching them that only accademic achievement is valued.

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 11:43:01

Ah, no I agree entirely that 'middle class' doesn't equal intelligence but I think it can go some way towards 'better' if not 'good' behaviour.

The very nature of the hyper-loaded term 'middle class' to ME implies -and the way I'm using (or abusing!) it here is "A group of people who generally have gone with the flow, have recognised how and where to achieve, working hard at education, get reasonable jobs, toe the party line sufficiently to get what they want (usually a reasonable salary and status), live their lives in accordance with acceptable societal norms, in a reasonably orderly fashion, appreciate the importance of good manners, self discipline and respect for others- and instil these values in their children".

Even a 'less clever' child from that sort of background surely would be inclined to be less disruptive!

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 11:50:20

Also, it strikes me that a lot of people who perceive that they've 'failed' in life blame their education, but then perhaps sheepishly add they truanted off most of it or mucked around 'because it was boring'.

Well, yes, much of what I sat through at school was as boring as 'bat ordure' BUT perhaps I came from a background where we learned that school isn't going to be fun, fun, fun and endlessly entertaining ALL the time, but that at the end of the day, it was up to us to 'get on with it'.

childrenofthecornsilk Mon 20-Oct-08 11:53:21

But if your needs are not being met it is a different issue to just finding school boring.

OrmIrian Mon 20-Oct-08 11:56:06

"and instil these values in their children"

I suppose I accept your definition up to a point. And the point is the one I've quoted above. So often children of people who crave status and income can be spoilt rotten with a huge sense of entitlement. Middle class parents don't always have good kids.

With children that don't do well at school it often isn't because they don't realise they have to 'get on with it", they just don't see the point.

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 12:12:27

But who fails to show these DCs 'the point'? It's a serious question. Whose job is it? Home, sending a DC into a learning environment ready to learn what's being taught? Society for not making it clearer, earlier, that there is a baseline of academia you MUST master if you want to stand a chance of ANY sort of job? School? Though I have to say, to a certain extent, what more can schools DO given that they reflect 'what society wants' in offering their core subjects at as many different 'levels' as possible?

As much as anything here, I'm not talking about less clever DCs floundering in what I'd call 'O' level say Physics, I mean DCs doing- is it - 'Science in the Community' or whatever that GCSE is called where basic scientific principles are taught to less academically able DCs? ie appropriately pitched to their ability?

Yes, there are many who 'crave money and status' but I think for all those, there are many more 'middle of the road' 'middle class types' to whom money and status come as a by product of being who they are.

OrmIrian Mon 20-Oct-08 12:33:13

Yes, and there are also many people with all the atitudes you refer to who have little money and status. 'The point' has to come from the parents initially, and from society in general, a sociaty that doesn't value wealthy slebs above scientists.

If you want a proportion of our society to accept that their children are not going to acheive any great academic laurels, there has to be less snobbishness about blue-collar work. If you suspect your child may become a plumber, society needs to recognise that as a good thing, not as 'only' a plumber. There may be a huge raft of academic underacheivers but they aren't a write-off, they are valuable in a different way.

And if I'm honest I hate the assumption that the only reason to do well at school is so that you get a good job. I value education for many many reasons, and most of all for itself, not for what you get from it in the end.

dilemma456 Mon 20-Oct-08 12:46:33

Message withdrawn

Blandmum Mon 20-Oct-08 12:48:35

I think that initially there is often no correlation at all.


If you are a child who finds work in school very hard


If you are not having your learning supported in a satisfactory way

Eventually you fall further and further behind.

Many of these kids end up thinking, 'WTF, I'm never going to improve, so why bother trying'

The also save face by 'failing' because they are 'norty' (and thus get street cred) rather than because they are 'thick'

And TBH I can#t really blame these kids, because if I were in their place I would feel the same and very possibly do the same

We, in the education system, fail them and eventually they give up and start buggering about

snowleopard Mon 20-Oct-08 12:55:28

I think a lot of it must be to do with the learning environment - if it doesn't suit you or frustrates you, you're more likly to get irate and be bored and play up, and if you are good at it, you're more likely to enjoy it and go along with it. Historically, school has developed to teach largely academic subjects, and a class of people has developed who do shape their children (not necessarily intentionally) for that kind of learning, and pass on their atitudes - so for example if your parents are a doctor and a publisher with degrees, they'll pass on academic values and attitudes and probably teach you all sorts of knowledge even before school and have a houseful of books, and you'll generally have a good preparation for an attitude to school learning - whereas if you're the child of unskilled workers who aren't academic, your ubringing won't (generally) be that academic, you won't be surunded by academic aptitude and it will be more difficult and alien when you go to school - however intelligent you may be. Then if you are not well-suited to school and do poorly, you get pushed down the streaming system, made to feel like a failure, or even excluded and the gap is emphasized even more. The system is run by and favours a certain group and perpetuates certain types of inequality. I do think schools should offer a much, much wider range of training and vocational skills courses and the government should stop seeing academic success and degrees as a measure of success for everyone.

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 12:56:30

mm, don't think the 'middle class' of whom I write produce many 'slebs'- they LAUGH at sleb culture, perhaps! No, I said money and status can be by-products of a 'middle class' value system but I've nowhere implied that if you don't have m & s, you cannot possibly hold 'middle class values'!

And yes, I think you hit the nail on the head with 'valuing education'. The less clever DCs of whom I spoke who ruin classes for the rest of the DCs due to poor behaviour in the classroom patently do not value education or possibly come from backgrounds that don't.

I agree that society perhaps doesn't value 'blue collar' to the extent it should- but I bet the Credit Crunch will see a mass re-evaluation of those attitudes! But the fact remains, the DC destined for plumbing/ carpentry etc WILL need a reasonable grasp of maths, science and English to even GET an apprenticeship these days. The issue is that the limited number of apprenticeships will go to those less clever, middle class value-d DCs who DID pass those vital exams to GET the apprenticeship. So I want a school where the less able DCs behave well enough to be able to learn the basics they NEED to know.

Can I ask, are you (Orm) saying that these less clever DCs would behave better in class if society valued plumbers more? Who should be teaching these DCs that plumbing is a valuable occupation?

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 13:02:16

So perhaps, snowleopard, in broad agreement with you, what I want for my DCs is a school where BECAUSE of the overwhelming middle-class, geared towards achievement (YOUR best, nit THE best!) pervasive attitude, my less clever DC will do as well as they can because their classes won't be disrupted by the disengaged.

snowleopard Mon 20-Oct-08 13:08:06

Yes and I think that's what many of us want, if we're honest. But if the school system was very different and kids could specialise from the start in things they were passionate about - from hairdressing to football to car mechanics to rock music to dance to drama to space science, etc etc etc, you could have a school of mixed ability where many more of the children could be really happy, engaged and not causing problems.

Of course there are still behavioural problems caused by other things - special needs, traumas such as abuse, and poor discipline - so it's not the only answer of course - but I do think it would be a great idea to start with.

OrmIrian Mon 20-Oct-08 13:09:00

Oh no I didn't mean the sleb-worship was a middle class preoccupation grin. But if you read most newspapers, magazines, watch the news, use the internet, it does give the impression that society as a whole is obsessed with those who are famous and wealthy for no reason other than that they are famous IYSWIM.

Yes I do think that. If you have no interest in being a lawyer or a doctor for example, whether or not you have the aptitude, an education that suggests these things are valuable, not just something that you do if you can't go to university, would help. Of course qualifications are needed, but if you have a goal in school, a goal the you see as acheivable and desirable, the enthusiasm for learning might be greater.

When I was at school the classes were streamed into beta/alpha and B/A. Beta/alpha stream was the more academic and we learnt Latin and Greek, B/A were the less so and did Domestic Science and sewing hmm Immediately making a value judgement about those children. That to my mind is wrong, and short-sighted. We need every type in our society and valuing one more than the other is dangerous.

snowleopard Mon 20-Oct-08 13:14:33

But I wouldn't stream the vocational skills as "lower", nor would I force anyone to do them. I would have core basic lessons to help all children learn basic literacy, maths and science as well as possible for them. I would also have a wide range of other lessons to choose from, every kind of topic, from traditional academic stuff to other academic topics like philosophy and cosmology, to interesting laguanges, music, sports, arts and vocational skills. You could choose any combination you liked and change every year or cary on with a subject to work towards a qualifiaction. You would get a wide grounding in subjects that naturally interested you and you would spend most of every day doing things you'd chosen.

OrmIrian Mon 20-Oct-08 13:16:14

Sounds good snowleopard. When are you going to become Education Minister?

snowleopard Mon 20-Oct-08 13:17:26

It's great isn't it. Me for president of the world.

Blandmum Mon 20-Oct-08 13:18:03

and in not small part this is because we do not offer appropriate, challenging vocational style courses to children who would benefit from the.

I've seen kids turned around when they start doing work that a. interests them,, b. they can see a purpose to doing and c allows them a chance of success.

As adults we know that we have a range of things we are good at, and a range of things we are bad at. Why do we stupidly insists that all kids are the same, and must have the same courses of study, regardless of their individual needs?

gaussgirl Mon 20-Oct-08 13:21:12

Snow- yes, I agree that perhaps the answer is to get DCs into the things they'll be engaged in- bearing in mind they ALL require basic academic skills, which is perhaps where the plan might fall down as in the Dcs 'know' that they're going to be 'directed' into something that will fire them and engage them, so why all this boring, dumb reading and writing business? The disrupted classes of which the parents I spoke to (re the OP) refer to are the literacy/maths type Y7-8 basics that their less able DCs find themselves in.

Sorry, Orm, I reread what you said re slebs! But what YOU say is very different to Snow in that you appear to disagree with directing DCs into stuff they might be more able at, calling it making value judgements.

And surely the modern comp fully realises not all DCs will be doctors and lawyers? I've seen marvellous motor mechanics workshops, cookery rooms to warm Jamie's heart, art spaces a Britart-ist would kill for- yet there's disruption and mucking about in the less academically able classes- classes GEARED towards these less clever DCs aiming towards GENERAL skills in these subjects, a WORKING knowledge, not a degree.


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