Naming of Parts

‘Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighbouring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.
This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.
This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.
And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.
They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.’ Henry Reed (From )

Henry Reed wrote three war poems in the 1940s, one of which is ‘Naming of parts’. Reed was conscripted into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in England in 1941 but after falling ill he was transferred to the Bletchley Park Code and Cipher School. There, being fluent in Italian he was assigned to breaking Italian codes, later learning Japanese and moving to the Japanese section.

Two worlds, in one tight discipline instilled according to a set of rules, making it easy to spot the offenders, the non-compliers. The life or death need to know your rifle, rote learning and Army Regulations, the internal world of the soldier, discipline and power. Thumb, not finger on the safety catch to make you an efficient killer. And in the background the other world of life of the human being, golden Japonica in the garden, the bees busy in the flowers, following the path of the seasons. Spring with two meanings.

Naming of terms

All scientists have one thing in common, whichever school they come from, quantitative or qualitative, philosophical or engineering. They always start work with the naming of parts, because however complete your knowledge of what to do and how to do it, it’s useless if you don’t know which bit of the universe you’re going to apply it to.

In schools discipline undefined is everything to everyone. A report this week says that comprehensive schools with grammar-school like discipline, detention, exclusion and all, achieve the best results. Another report says that exclusion is linked to the rise in children’s mental ill health.
Exclusion is presented as the undefined ‘last resort’ by Government and Guru alike and in line with their advice a prestigious London Grammar school is in the news for excluding students on the grounds their A level scores are below the standard the headteacher sets.

In a primary school the headteacher has made the headlines because she disciplined badly behaved children by excluding them from class and shutting them up in a small room for a spell of solitary confinement. Yet this school within a multi academy trust has declared values;

“We offer children a balanced curriculum in a rich and purposeful environment, focused on preparing our pupils for the future. We have good teachers, good standards, a well-developed sense of pastoral care, and values that underpin all that we do. Above all, Tollgate is a community in which children can grow. We seek to develop the whole child, so that ultimately he or she can enter the fast changing world with confidence and ready to make a really positive contribution.”

“Tollgate Primary School aims to provide an environment where children have the independence, respect and opportunities to make good choices which will increase their learning potential throughout their lives.” Presumably locking children up was her way to carry the values through into practice and a well-developed sense of pastoral care.

Meanwhile the current Government Behaviour Adviser says that detention works and schools should be using it more, on the grounds that removing a disruptive child from class means they can’t disrupt it, the same argument that Michael Howard advanced for his claim that prison works which lead to a dramatic rise in the prison population. If you lock up burglars they don’t burgle, Q E D. But there’s no mention of the educational rationale for detention, in school or prison.

The naming of parts and The Table of Exclusion.

The scientist Mendeleef created the Periodic Table of Elements to solve a messy problem. Elements exist in three phases and in a bewildering number of types and colours, but do they have any fixed relationship to one another? He decided to try ordering them according to the number of protons they had in each atom and it worked. They fell into a stable pattern that even predicted the position of elements that hadn’t been discovered in Mendeleef’s lifetime. He named all the parts.

What could we use as a basic ordering characteristic for exclusion?

Is it exclusion as pedagogy? Can we list types of exclusion, a form of punishment, in terms of intended learning outcomes? So public naming and shaming = a, naughty step = b, in-class segregation = c, out-of-class isolation = d, after school detention = e, fixed-term exclusion = f, permanent exclusion = g? The behavioural psychologists who ordered reward and punishment as reinforcers of behaviour clearly stated that punishment interrupts existing behaviour but does not lead to new learning, so it can’t be that.

Is it judicial? For an offender to be found guilty of a crime there has to be due process, with a statutory offence, impartial evidence of guilt and intention to offend, a defence lawyer and a means of assessing guilt by judge or jury. Does the behaviour policy detail due process? Is there automatic right of appeal against sentence? No, so it can’t be that.

Is it an act of retribution? Is it revenge for defiance of authority, for failure to comply? Is no more than the expression of the power adults can exert over children?

And running the background is the life of the child, with attachment and belonging, playing with friends in the park, dreaming of dragons in the night. Trying to make sense of words with two meanings.

Exclusion is a mess. There’s no way I can see of ordering it at all, so let’s start somewhere else. Zero exclusion and what comes next.