We're not pretending to know a lot about British schools, other than what we've learned from porn and horror movies (and we suspect some of that information is less than accurate).
This happens a lot, right?
We assume that the curriculum over there has some kind of "harden the fuck up" policy when it comes to grieving for your loved ones, because that's the only way we can explain Ryecroft's decision to ban a couple of siblings from a Christmas dance when they took a few days off from school. After their dad died of cancer.
"Spoonful of sugar, right kids? Tip tip. Cheerio."
The head teacher at Ryecroft defended the school's decision, claiming that the Christmas dance was an additional treat set up to reward children who didn't miss a single day of school, because their goal is to "build a community that attends school and regards school as absolutely vital for the future." After all, if kids start using cancer as an excuse to skip school, it's just a very short slippery slope to the kind of scorched dystopian wasteland the movies warned us about.
Thanks a lot kids.
Later on, the school's administration did retract part of that decision claiming that the boy could have attended the dance after all. But not his sister.
After all, they can't back completely down from the decision. They don't want to look like a bunch of assholes.
Look, kids can be suicidal little lemming bastards. We get it. Turn your back on them for 10 seconds and they're diving toward the power socket with a knife outstretched.
This uppity motherfucker just won't stop trying to kill himself with that spoon.
But as much as we'd sometimes like to let them top themselves for the good of the (much diminished) future generations, most of us are instilled with a biological drive known as ethics.
Not so for the British Melksham Manor School whose policy is to do precisely jack shit when one of their students weasels himself into mortal danger. A five-year-old kid found this out the hard way a few months ago when he climbed a 20-foot tall tree and found himself stuck there. Some teachers noticed him, and proceeded to completely ignore his plight as per their health and safety policy.
Here in the States, when something gets stuck in a tree, we throw stuff at it.
When pressed for answer concerning what the hell they were thinking, the school's administration explained that the teachers were forbidden to act because they feared any rescue operation might distract the boy and cause him to fall. The policy apparently rests upon the assumption that he will simply learn to fly eventually.
"We would have put out the fire, but then they wouldn't know what to run away from."
Luckily, this hour-long acorn impression later ended without a depressing splat after the boy was helped down by a passing stranger, sparing the school awkward conversations with the kid's parents or the hassle of having to clean a vaguely child-shaped stain off the pavement. Naturally, the woman who saved the boy was later sued by the school for trespassing on private property.
If you enjoy lurking around outside New York's named junior high schools, chances are you were treated to quite a sight in April this year: a 12-year-old girl in handcuffs doing the perp walk, escorted off her school's premises by two police officers. Holy hell, what did the kid do exactly? Cap a Blood for getting all up in her grill?
"Crips 4 Life."
Nope. She wrote a sentence on her desk using an erasable marker.
The little girl got in trouble with the unimaginatively named Junior High School 190 after her Spanish teacher caught her scribbling "I love my friends Abby and Faith" on the desk, which in all fairness she probably thought were slang terms for "heroin" and "illegal abortions."
At least she wasn't having unprotected "Ashley."
After being dragged to the dean's office, the kid was witness to probably one of the strangest conversations in the history of ever. The dean, the representative of the entire school, actually picked up the phone, called the police and asked them to come and arrest the girl for totally not actually damaging school property at all. And they did. With handcuffs no less.
They even seized her Lisa Frank folders.
But 190's insane overreaction quota was far from filled. The school first suspended the girl and then took her to family court, where she was sentenced to eight hours of community service and writing an essay about what all this experience has taught her, which is probably something along the lines of "Adults never lose their capacity to grossly overreact to things."
You've probably noticed the pattern by now; while American schools tend to be blunt and direct with their policies of child abuse, schools in Britain prefer the more subtle and more deeply-scarring tactic of straight-up batshit lunacy. That's the best way we can explain this story: On July 10, 2009, the students at the UK Southway Junior School in Burgess Hill witnessed an alien abduction of their teacher.
The school had an amazing effects budget.
It started with a shrieking, piercing noise and a cascade of colorful lights, after which the principal informed the students that a UFO crash-landed near the school. Following a trail of debris, the students laid their eyes on an extraterrestrial space craft, from which aliens emerged. Then the aliens kidnapped a member of the staff and, if Hollywood didn't lie to us, probed his rectum with various phallic objects.
Of course, the abduction later turned out to be a "special performance" by the school staff, who even got the freaking police in on it, providing budget special effects in the form of sirens and flashing patrol car lights. Why? To stimulate the kids' imagination for writing assignments of course!
Well, mission freaking accomplished because, by the end of this, they stimulated so many imaginations of that many of the seven-year-olds broke down in tears and complete confusion.
"Why didn't I get to go on the spaceship ride?!"
Damn, who could have known that kids who still believe in Santa Claus would have trouble telling reality from fiction?
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online journalist and Japanese-English-Polish translator. Contact him via email@example.com
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