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The silence of a cry not heard (19th January 2023)

He goes to school, unwashed and unkempt

and the teacher decides to point it out.

She pulls his ear, checks his neck, shouts out;

the class sits quiet, feeling his sadness and pain.

It’s not his fault, there’s no soap at home;

the parents have gone out, left him alone.


She’s new at school-they’ve just moved house

from the slum clearances in the centre of town.

Her dad is in prison, her mum’s told the school

and her teacher decides to teach her the rules.

Rule one-you’re a convict’s daughter, a piece of trash.

I don’t want you here messing up my class.


He’s not very bright, this boy from the east;

His accent is different from everyone else.

His English is stilted, he does his best, to keep

up with others, though the teacher is less

than helpful or kind. In fact she is cruel, says

his work is a mess. Sit in the corner, until you

learn to speak this country’s language you exotic beast.


Corporal punishment was the name of the game

for these brutal bastards, teachers only in name.

The truth is they judged, sentenced and carried out

what they thought was rightful without any doubt.


I often wonder what brought them to this, a job

where they’re working with vulnerable kids.

A job where it’s vital to be good at their job,

to teach, to care, bring out the best in these kids.

How many lives have been ruined by cruel bastards,

posing as teachers, in reality just psychos.


Post script.

This is a reflection of teaching in the late sixties, from a child’s perspective. I’m sure there are many good teachers out there, who support their students, without judgement. A good teacher can be the difference between achievement and delinquency.

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