2007 started badly as two young men tried to break into our house in the early hours of New Year's Day. As I looked down on them from my bedroom window, they looked up... and scarpered. I worried momentarily about what I would do if I recognised either of them.
Nothing was taken, the only damage a broken window which cost us time, effort, money and peace of mind. In the days afterwards, I experienced that intense anger where you imagine or even verbalise the words you would use to tear into them should you have the opportunity to talk those who have wronged you. "What right have you got to break into my house? I am a hard working, public spirited person. What do you mean, I can claim on insurance? Don't you understand that insurance premiums go up if people are always being broken into? What about my right to live a peaceful life, my right to feel safe in my own home?" But the feeling passed.
I am a theoretical believer in restorative justice. But my experience in education lead me to believe that actually making people change their understanding of what they are doing on a profound level is very difficult and takes time, care and patience - things we lack in today's society. How long does it take to change a child's mind so they understand that lateness to school is a bad thing that is slowly corroding their education? How long does it take to make a child understand that their belittling or mocking behaviour is actually bullying even though they just think it is the normal warp and weft of teenage life?
One of my colleagues announced at the beginning of last year that she had decided to try and change her own mindset instead of railing endlessly about the way the students are. Instead of wasting her own anguish, railing about their attitudes and behaviour, she has decided to focus all that mental energy on working out how to deal with the students and move them on. Maybe she is right. Maybe our righteous indignation, anger and passion is misdirected and serves only to hurt us and dissipate what energy we should have for creative solutions to the problems that face us.
Or is she wrong? Is it the burning, personal, deeply felt sense of anger at the way the world is that drives us forward, that gives us the energy to keep working in education?
I don't know.
On a different note, this was my first encounter with the Police since I became a blog reader. I was very impressed with the police officer who attended; not at all shocked by the amount of paperwork the incident provoked; charmingly able to save her time by knowing the meaning of terms due to my obsessive reading of 'Wasting Police Time'; less impressed the following day when the SOCO turned up despite the first officer telling us it was OK to go ahead and clear up as there was no point in the SOC people attending (explanation - change of shift); and generally reaffirmed in my prejudices that while individual police officers are fantastic, they are hemmed in by statistics and beaurocracy in much the same way as teachers.