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Thursday 17 May 2012
Letters: Stress? Everyone blames teachers
As the children of an incredibly hard-working secondary school teacher we feel obliged to express our outrage at Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw's statement that "teachers don't know the meaning of stress".
Not only does our mother spend virtually all day in school but the vast majority of her evenings and weekends are taken up with lesson planning, preparation and other essential tasks – not to mention meetings, presentations and parents' evenings all out of school hours, and unpaid weekend field trips. The huge amount of time that her job consumes is often to the detriment of other areas of her life such as spending time with her partner and children, which adds still more pressure and stress.
Our mum is a perfectionist, never known to do anything half-heartedly, and she puts her all into her job. She wouldn't know how not to. There are times when it seems worth it, and there have always been pupils and colleagues who obviously appreciate her time and effort very much. But it has been heartbreaking over the years to see so much go largely unrecognised.
In this "blame others" culture, where many people do not want to take responsibility, everything is the teacher's fault. Ofsted, the Government and even the general public can't seem to wait to point the finger and dismiss the care and hard work that most teachers strive to provide.
Although "compassion fatigue" was a term coined by the American Nurses Association, it is now recognised as afflicting teachers as well. The combination of physical, emotional and spiritual depletion involved in caring for those in protracted distress causes burnout. Sir Michael Wilshaw is in deep denial if he believes that teachers are immune.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Swallow your pride and let the eurozone shrink
The single currency for Europe was a colossal mistake by overambitious but financially ignorant politicians, and must inevitably fail. A common currency cannot succeed unless the parties to the currency union have common or similar financial aims, similar financial structures and similar attitudes to taxation and government finance, and, a practical impossibility, they have a council which can enforce rules regarding amount of debt, interest rates (which can never be comfortable for all) and taxation.
It is obvious that anyone who knows Germany and Italy, for instance, knows that these two countries cannot run their finances in similar ways; their peoples are different and have different attitudes to life.
The only practical answer for the countries where the euro has failed to work is for the EU and particularly members of the eurozone, arrange a system by which without loss of dignity by any party these countries could revert to their previous currencies. The only real problem here is that many prominent politicians will lose face, which has caused many wars in the past; we must overcome this problem if we can.
Should a Greek euro exit come to pass, a programme of external support for the country will no doubt be needed over many months to assist its economic recovery. Such support will presumably be a matter for the EU as a whole, not just for the eurozone. One hopes that our own government is fully prepared for such an outcome and that Mr Osborne has our chequebook ready to hand.
Now that Mr Hollande has been elected, all the political commentators are toeing the Coalition line that the "markets" will rebel because he cannot have growth without increasing French debt. Read his lips! One of his major points is that he will increase the top rate of tax and this is where the money for growth will come from. It is exactly what the US did in the Thirties and the following decades to get out of the depression and to encourage growth – with amazing results.
At the same time, Europe, led by Germany, is forcing excessive austerity on Greece, parallel to the austerity forced on Germany by the Versailles Treaty in the 20s and 30s by Britain and France – history repeating itself, but with the cast taking different parts.
This is not a eurozone crisis but another banking crisis – or a continuation of the 2008 one. We, the people of Europe, know exactly where all the money has gone. Mr Hollande is starting a campaign to retrieve our stolen money.
Port Solent, Hampshire
President Hollande flies to meet Chancellor Merkel and there, waiting on the tarmac to greet him, is a long line of expensively kitted-out squaddies. In an age of austerity, might not EU leaders indicate to each other that they appreciate a red carpet but do not need to be greeted by each other's armies every time they step from a plane?
Defence need or imperial folly?
Tim Cross (Comment, 15 May) concludes that defence requirements are not just about financial balance. They are "about an ability to deliver military capability where it is needed". Just so, except how are those decisions made?
A government with imperial ambitions could decide that Britain "needs" a military capability comparable with our global interests in 1914. Ridiculous, you might think, except that British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan reflects just such a mindset.
Tight financial constraint is an excellent way to prevent the march of folly reflected in these two adventures. They have achieved nothing except wasted life and the wrath of kamikaze terrorists which results, among other inconveniences, in a large bill for Olympic security. An inability to pursue such "needs" because there is no money available is the perfect solution to defence planning.
Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire
I read in The Independent (14 May) that to date we have lost 414 brave soldiers to achieve absolutely nothing in Afghanistan.
It is a pointless exercise, keeping a corrupt government in power, which is bound to lead to more of our soldiers being killed by the very people they are supporting. We should get out now, but of course we won't and soon this terrible number of 414 will top 500.
Demand justice for Alan Turing
We would like to add our voices to those mentioned by Andy McSmith (2 May) campaigning to grant Alan Turing an official pardon.
This year is the centenary of Turing's birth and there will be celebrations in honour of his brilliant mathematical achievements and outstanding contributions to code-breaking during the Second World War. Turing was driven to take his own life in 1954 because of the appalling way he was treated. He was convicted of "gross indecency" and chemically castrated at a time when having a sexual relationship with another man was against the law. Turing was just one of thousands of men convicted under this unjust law, many of whom are still alive today.
A pardon for Turing would send out a clear message that the present British Government recognises the laws resulting in prosecution and persecution of people for having gay relationships were wrong. It is not possible to put the clock back but it is possible to honour Turing in his centenary year. This would also indicate that the Government is committed to promoting equality in this country and ensuring that there is no discrimination on grounds of sexuality in the future.
The House of Lords has rejected a petition to pardon Turing posthumously but the campaign continues. We urge all readers to sign the online petition in support of a pardon.
Chair, Hastings and Rother Rainbow Alliance
Cllr Jay Kramer
Cllr Jeremy Birch
Cllr Kim Forward
Cllr John Hodges
Cllr Matthew Lock
Cllr Matthew Beaver
CV lies will find you out in the end
The downfall of the former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who has been tempted to "enhance" their CV. No matter how high you rise and how much time passes, you can still get caught out.
What makes the episode even more disheartening is the fact that a computer science degree isn't all that important in the IT industry. Only 1.5 per cent of the IT professionals we work with have one. What makes people successful in IT is an analytical mind and the ability to process complex information.
More often than not, telling lies on your CV is a result of insecurity rather than careful calculation. But very few who do it realise they will spend the rest of their careers under the sword of Damocles, in fear of being caught out.
Greythorn Recruitment, London WC1
Brooks: let the courts decide
I think I have seldom read a more hubristic statement from an accused person than that of Rebekah Brooks on being charged with three counts of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. She challenges the impartiality of the Crown Prosecution Service in charging her; she accuses them of making "a weak and unjust decision" and she says the whole thing is baffling, "an expensive sideshow" and a waste of public money. We shall have to wait and see, won't we?
The connection between the sandwich and its aristocratic inventor as described by Andy McSmith (Diary, 15 May) seems borne out by a painting currently on display at the Royal Academy of Arts which shows a young boy munching on such a snack just six years after its invention. The painting, A Porter with a Hare, is the work of Johan Zoffany, whose patron was the Earl of Sandwich.
It is reported that the Scottish government proposes to impose a minimum tax on alcohol of 50p per unit, while the UK government is considering 40p in England. If this happens, would it be possible to ensure that Scottish drinkers are unable to buy alcohol at the price prevailing in England, in the same way in which English students are refused free university education in Scotland?
As the scribbling classes cast around for something to replace Merkozy in their lexicon, may I make a constructive suggestion to embrace the Hollande/Merkel axis? Homer. Here the intellectual debt would be not to the author of the Iliad – D'oh! – but to The Simpsons. In this rich new cultural idiom, who might earn the soubriquet of Sideshow Bob? Fat Tony? Yes Guy? Radioactive Man?
Robert Dillon finds Mary Beard's hairstyle "inappropriate for someone of her age and distinction" (letter, 14 May). All power to those people, women and men, who have enough personality and individuality to dress in a way that rises above the expected norm. More Mary Beards, please!
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