It's true what they say: you do learn something new every day. Today, for example, I learned that Bill Struth, natty dresser, champion oar-wielder and shipyard recruitment officer, had another string to his bow. It is well-known that Struth was a professional athlete, a middle-distance runner, before he entered the world of football. Apparently, he liked to amuse his friends with the story of how he once cheated to win a race because he needed the money. Not only does this show that it was always party time chez Struth, but it also explains a lot about the club that he moulded into his own image and likeness!
Another thing I learned, thanks to being pointed in the right direction by somebody on the Daily Record forum, is that Dave King is even more of a scoundrel than we gave him credit for. Allegedly he's been mixed up with a top crime boss and drug dealer in South Africa; one Glenn Agliotti. Agliotti had his fingers in a lot of pies and had more than a couple of corrupt government officials on his payroll. This guy makes the Easdales look like altar boys! Which is funny, since the ones that are calling the current Bisto board 'spivs' and 'crooks' are the very ones that want to bring Davie Boy in! So they think that the best thing for their new club is to replace possible gangsters with an even bigger one. That's Bisto Kids' logic for you!
Many folk say, 'I blame the schools,' but that might be more true than you think. There's an interesting post on today's McMurdo blog, which re-posts somebody's thoughts on education in America. Apparently schools in the US aim for getting their pupils to, at the very least, be able to read and understand about 50% of a newspaper. The McMurdo poster says that it applies to the current situation at Bisto but does not elaborate so it's hard to see the point he is trying to make. Of course, there's the usual bam interpreting it as only one of The Peeppil can: he says that RCs have failed to 'outbreed' Protestants so now they're going all out to 'out-educate' them. In other words, the fact that RC schools continually outstrip ND schools is all part of a Catholic conspiracy!
The truth, however, is more prosaic but altogether more sad. There are many problems to be faced by schools these days, not least of which is the disingenous misinterpretation of EU and UN declarations on children's rights by local councils. The EU and the UN both state that every child, no matter his or her background, is entitled to the same education. This, of course, means that provisions should be made for every individual to be educated to the same standard. In practice, however, councils see it as a money-saving exercise and dump all children into mainstream schools to receive the 'same' education. Children with severe learning, psychological and social difficulties are put into mainstream classes with no extra provisions, eating up teachers' time and also often causing disruption in the classroom.
But both RC and ND schools are faced with this problem, so the causes of the disparity must lie elsewhere. I have taught in both RC and ND schools in all different areas and they can all have their difficulties. In an affluent area you get doctors and lawyers turning up at parents' evenings demanding to know why their six-year-old hasn't sat his Highers yet! In deprived areas the problem is the opposite: quite often the parents either couldn't care less, since they got nothing out of school, or have so many problems that they simply can't cope. Although, again, these tendencies can be seen in both RC and ND schools. So, again, the differences lie elsewhere.
I am in a privileged position since I have worked in both types of school and can see one major problem in ND schools. In any school, primary or secondary, motivating the pupils is about 90% of the battle; many pupils are simply reluctant to learn. It is possible to motivate them by bribery, making lessons fun or skewing lessons to fit in with their interests. In all the schools I worked in I only encountered two types of children that absolutely refused point-blank to get engaged with learning no matter what.
One of these groups was Gypsy, or Traveller, boys. Traveller girls were always well-behaved and keen to learn everything; the boys, on the other hand, could not see the point no matter what you might offer in the way of learning. All they wanted was practical skills, at which, to give them their due, they excel, listening and acting on every piece of teaching you put their way.
The other group, unfortunately the larger, comprised those imbued with the WATP mentality. Even though football items were banned, they would turn up with Rangers rings, earrings, coats; anything, really to show their allegiance. As soon as you saw one of these children you knew you were going to have bother; not necessarily with discipline, but with teaching. The one thing that all these children had in common was their arrogance. They simply could not accept that anyone could teach them anything and they seemed to already 'know' that they were better than everyone else. In some schools these children were a minority, while in some areas they vastly outnumbered everyone else.
At a couple of schools the head teacher and, to a lesser extent, the teachers had just given up and educated the children on their own terms. Long-term supply teachers, like me, at one of these schools were shocked at the culture, where prowess at football was the only thing that mattered. Prize-giving at the end of the year saw medals and cups given out for attendance at football training, player of the year, highest goal-scorer etc etc. Children whose attendance and behaviour at school was exemplary and who were working hard got no recognition whatsoever. To make matters worse, the 'player of the year' had been in trouble with the police for threatening a teacher, while the 'highest goal-scorer' had also been in trouble for deliberately burning part of the school down! What message was this sending to the other children?
The other school was even worse. This school found it almost impossible to get and hold onto supply teachers. I lasted three months before giving up in disgust. I heard that one woman lasted all of five minutes! The culture in this school was one where the pupils were always right. When marking, I, and most other teachers, will concentrate on one thing that needs improvement. Putting a red pen through a whole piece of work and telling the pupil that it's utter shite is hardly an incentive to learn anything! This school, however, was reluctant to criticise anything. If you pointed out a tiny mistake and asked for it to be fixed, the pupil would storm off to the head teacher, who would return with the child and tell you off in front of the class for being critical!
The sheer arrogance of the pupils in this school was breathtaking. They felt that they could do what they liked with impunity; unfortunately, they were right. Their whole attitude to the teacher, and life in general, was one of 'Who the hell are you to tell me anything?' I checked a few of the test papers in the school, wondering why, on paper, the pupils seemed to be doing fine when, in reality, they were way behind where they were meant to be. It might or might not surprise you to learn that the tests were atrocious. There was no way they should have passed their writing, while on the reading and maths tests you could see where an original answer had been rubbed out and another put in its place. I believe this is called cheating!
So my message to the Bisto Kids is this: if you want your children to do well at school perhaps you should take a look at the attitudes your are imbuing them with. Then again, perhaps you think that being educated and thinking for oneself might negate the whole ethos of Orangeism!
Anyway, enough of the polemic and back to the nonsense. Today's Daily Record has the astounding, earth-shattering story of Leigh Griffiths, in a pub before yesterday's game, leading the singing about Hearts, mocking them! Shock! Horror! Griffiths, in case it escaped the DR's attention, happens to be a Hibs supporter and slagging off Hearts comes with the territory. This is called football rivalry. I remember years ago John Peel saying, at a time when his beloved Liverpool weren't doing that well, that all he had left was hating Man Utd! This is normal. Everywhere in the world supporters of one team hate and slag off their rivals. Only in this country could it be construed as something unsavoury.
And why? To make excuses for The Peeppil, of course! The Billy Boys, and other cheerful ditties, have been heard on numerous occasions at Division 2 and now Division 1 grounds everywhere with not a word said. Now, if you chance to point this out, the cry will be, 'Aye, but look whit Leigh Griffiths dun!' The Bisto Kids play along, one of them even calling it a 'Hate Crime'! For God's sake!
Then we've got Michael Mols, toeing the DR line in slagging off the Bisto board and offering the services of all the ex-Rangers players as scouts! A better plan would be if they all paid back those 'loans' they got. Still, maybe it'll work, eh?
"Hi there, son, those're some impressive skills you've got there. How would you like to play at the best, most famous football club in the whole world?"
"Well...I've already got Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich fighting for my signature."
"Never mind those fly-by-nights, son, come and sign for a real, record-breaking, world-class team with a global fan base. The Famous Glasgow Rangers."
"Never heard of them, mister. What can they offer me?"
"Well, you'll be playing at a stadium full of asbestos, in front of a crowd that'll sing songs of hate about your religion and they rely on pay-day loans every month to meet the wage bill."
"What's not to like about that; where do I sign?"
And, finally, the story about Pastor Joe Nwokoye, Marvin Andrews's pastor, based in Kirkcaldy. This maniac blames all the world's ills on same-sex marriages. Floods, fires, murders, economic disasters, the lot are all punishments from God for tolerating gay people in our midst. He says that in Old Testament times these folk would have been stoned to death. It is with obvious regret that he says, “We can’t do it now because Jesus Christ is a merciful God."
Merciful God? Then why the hell is he punishing everybody else for other people's 'sins'? As McMurdo says, you can see how Protestantism has promoted freedom, equality and tolerance everywhere, eh?
"Och, Ah'm bored. Thur's nuthin' tae dae up here, sittin' aboot wi' angels 'n' 'at. Mibby Ah'll dae sumthin' tae theym doon there. Aye, but Ah'm a merciful God, so Ah canny. Och, tae fuck wi' it - Ah kin dae what Ah like; Ah'm God. There's a flood fur yez ya shower-a bastards. That'll teach ye tae let aw they gay folk walk aboot!"