Monday, 17 June 2013

Troops to Teachers - killers in the classroom?

I think I might gradually becoming angry ... and I would like to apologize if it appears as if I'm not considering the full context of the blog I'm referring to - I can't repeat it all. And it is in the nature of quotations that they are, on occasion, out of context.

Mr Northice kindly insists that:
My view of the military’s purpose, and the violence therein, is one of its broader political — and historical — role, not that of individuals’ motivation for enlisting.

Not an indivitual's motivation for enlisting - thank you very much - but that doesn't stop him from saying:
the Armed Forces are about using violence, force, aggression and/ or coercion to maintain the dominance of a nationalist narrative within a country’s domestic and foreign policy, and the experiences of its citizens’ cultural life.

Yes, again he claims to be referring to the wider political context - but he's just hiding behind this statement.

Mr Northice, why do you dislike the Military so much? You make attempts to convince your audience that you distinguish between "the Military" and people serving in the Armed Forces. But, really, you don't. (And I wonder what made you choose "from the frontline" as the header for your own blog.) You also don't seem to know it very well:
Teaching also needs, desperately, to be more representative of the cultural makeup of the UK. [...] As mentioned, those in the Armed Forces represent something of a specific political position, albeit through somewhat more diverse individual opinions and a slowly improving intake-demographic.

I just so happen to be currently reading a book by Tim Collins - "Rules of Engagement". He writes there about the 1st Batallion the Royal Irish Regiment - going back as far as 2001(!):
"A total of nineteen nationalities served within our ranks. [...] Prejudice of any sort was unforgiveable." (p.26)

Narrowing the gap between the strongest and the weakest is also part of Military ethics - nobody is being left behind. My friend has tried to describe this as well []. But you are as committed to your opinion as I am to mine.

Now I would like to go back, once more, to the issue of violence which seems to be underlying so much of what Mr. Northice writes.

I have a friend - a very dear friend - whose experience will, by no means, be unique. I don't know much about his time in the army, because that's not something he generally talks about. If he does, then he'll talk about some funny aspects - the kind of stories soldiers tell who have seen a fair bit of the world. (And I really wish Prince Harry - Captain Wales - had not told the world of his own achievements ... But that is a whole different issue about which I have written elsewhere.)

However, I do know that this dear friend of mine was involved in people getting killed - whether due to orders he gave, or by his own hand. I don't really care. I know that he didn't enjoy it; that he probably wishes he didn't have to do it; but that he accepted - and still accepts - it as part of his job. (Until mankind has learned to live peacefully, we will probably have armed forces somewhere on the planet.)
You know, Mr. Northice: This very experience has made him one of the most peaceful people I know. He doesn't like conflict; he prefers not to have arguments (which, in conversation with me, can be a bit of a challenge). He is incredibly supportive of the people around him - even if it is to his own disadvantage. He wants the best for other people. And he knows an awful lot about motivating people and about team work.

I would trust him with children or vulnerable people any time. In fact, I would trust him with my own life without a moment's hesitation. And I would have no problem whatsoever if he stood any chance at all of being "fast tracked" - which he doesn't, because he left the army long before any such projects came into existence.

Mr. Northice, you accuse me of misinterpretations; of making assumptions. Regarding the latter - guilty as charged. I will make assumptions about men (and women!) who have served. Misinterpretations? This is not an exchange about facts. There are no "scientific" facts on which we could base this exchange. This is a debate based on fundamental differences in the beliefs we hold. Strangely enough - not differences in what we believe good education is.

I am not saying and will never say that every person with a military background will per se make a good teacher or role model. I do believe, however, that I will find a good many in that group - and they will have to go through a selection process and through training before they can teach. this nation's children.

Lastly - I would love to conduct a research project to evaluate this idea of Troops to Teachers. I am a trained researcher. My research would have to be designed in such a way that it is far more likely I'm proven wrong in my assumptions than that they are confirmed. Trust me, I know how to do that. But somehow I don't believe that either side will make the money available.


  1. Thank you! I'm not sure I'm always balanced - I'm too passionate for that - but definitely honest!