Tales Out Of School: Strange Stories From The Global Classroom

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The Independent Online
We ain't got no body: Around 40 anatomy professors in the medical school at Honduras's main university went on strike to demand administrators supply them with more dead bodies from hospitals and mortuaries.

"It would be really hard for the dean of the medical school to satisfy this need on his own, unless he goes out on the street with a pistol in his hand," Victor Ramos, a medical professor, said. Professor Ramos said the anatomy department used to receive some 30 bodies each semester, but the number had gone down to one a semester, and sometimes none.

Spare the rod: The highest state court in Massachusetts heard arguments last week about whether spanking a child constituted abuse or was just good discipline. The case involved Woburn, Massachusetts, church minister Donald Cobble who in 1997 hit his then nine-year-old son, Judah, with the end of a leather belt after the boy came home with a bad report card. Judah, now 12, told a teacher that his father spanked him. The teacher subsequently alerted the state's Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS, which considers spanking child abuse if it causes tissue swelling, filed abuse charges against Cobble. It then offered to drop the charges if the pastor agreed to stop spanking Judah. Cobble refused.

"The Bible is absolutely clear that the rod is a necessary part to raising your child," Cobble told reporters after the hearing before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

A lower court judge agreed with DSS, saying the spanking constituted abuse. Cobble's lawyer, Chester Darling, told the justices the spanking in question "left temporary, teeny, tiny, red marks that went away in 10 minutes. That is the serious injury. That is what brought us here today.''

But assistant attorney general Juliana Rice told the court a line was crossed: "He was hit hard enough to leave pink marks."

A ruling is expected in the case before the end of the year.

No nudes is good news: Schools in Fort Worth, Texas, have cancelled class trips to an art museum after parental complaints about nudity and homosexuality in an exhibition of paintings by Francis Bacon.

The Fort Worth school district sent five school administrators to review the special Bacon exhibit after getting complaints from parents who saw the show last week at the Modern Art Museum.

"I'm concerned that children have protected eyes at times," said the district's art programme director, Beverly Fletcher. "It's not age-appropriate. It's an emotionally charged show. It has references to homosexuality and umpteen frontal nudity views."

One mother claimed her son came home from a field trip to the exhibit asking about homosexuality and violence, and saying he was afraid to go to sleep.

Some of the paintings on show feature dark and distorted human faces and figures, including nudes. Many use agonised faces, jagged edges and splashes of blood-red pigment on dark backgrounds.

Down Down Under: New research from the Australian National University shows that the sunny disposition of Australians may be just a myth. The "feel-good factor" may be returning slowly to Australia, but pessimists still prevail in the general outlook on life, the research revealed.

Only 24 per cent of Australians think their quality of life is improving, while 34 per cent think it is getting worse. Even so, that reveals a better outlook from the population at large over the past two years. A similar poll in 1997 showed as many as 52 per cent of Australians thought their quality of life was declining, with only 13 per cent seeing an improvement.

"The study reveals a sense of personal optimism and belief in Australia that has probably always existed. There appears to be a lifting of the national mood, but it may be superficial and short term," the report says. "There remains an underlying current of pessimism and concern in the national psyche that's grown over the last 20 years."

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