Teacher Resigns After Pupil Asks Difficult Question

A secondary school teacher has become a minor celebrity for handing in his resignation after losing a five minute debate with one of his third year pupils.

The incident started during a classroom discussion about gang culture. In an exclusive interviewer for The Disconcerter the teacher explained exactly what happened.

‘We were having a discussion about bullying and gang culture and I was pointing out to the class why using peer pressure, bullying and outright violence against others is completely unacceptable behaviour for any civilised society.’

It was at this point in the discussion that one of the pupils asked the teacher who paid his salary.

‘I answered that the taxpayer pays my salary. The pupil then asked me what would happen if the taxpayer didn’t want to pay my salary.

By now I was starting to feel uncomfortable, but I couldn’t bring myself to lie to the class. So I just told them the truth straight out …… that if the taxpayer didn’t want to pay my salary the government would threaten them, on my behalf, no doubt with letters and a court summons to begin with. After that, if they refused to be intimidated into paying my salary the government would intervene – again on my behalf – and they might send bailiffs round to the taxpayer’s house to break in and take his property by force, or they might send round paid thugs in blue costumes to drag the taxpayer away in the back of a van and lock him up in a jail cell for refusing to obey the demands to hand over the money.

It was at this point that everyone in the class, including myself, realised I was being a total hypocrite for lecturing them about bullying and gang culture. I knew it…. the class knew it… we all knew it. None of us said a word for a long time…. Then I experienced a moment of clarity. It was as if a weight that I had been carrying around for my whole teaching career had suddenly been lifted off me.

I calmly thanked the pupil for asking such an astute question and told her not to worry and that asking difficult questions was how we evolved as a society. Then I thanked the entire class for their attention and explained that even though I was a grown up – and a teacher – I had never fully acknowledged the cold hard reality that my salary was being paid for with money taken from the public by force, including the threat or actual use of violence against them personally.

I then explained to my class that I could no longer work for the school because I was experiencing a moral impasse which I explained as follows…… If the government stopped using force against the public on my behalf to collect my salary for me I would not, in all honesty, feel comfortable arranging for my own gang of thugs to go and intimidate total strangers into paying my salary, nor could I personally bring myself to punish someone for not wanting to pay my salary by having them dragged off and locked up inside a cage, or use that as a threat to help ‘encourage’ them to give me their money.

I explained to my class that I’d only just realised that the government uses all of these tactics to get the money to pay my salary, and that the reason it took me so many years to realise this was that the government cunningly disguises its acts of coercion and violence with euphemisms like ‘tax’ and ‘free education’. But, having realised the true nature of the situation, for me to continue to accept any money from them would make me complicit in their bullying and theft tactics, and it would only encourage them to keep behaving in this immoral way. Such coercive and violent behaviour goes against the most basic moral principals which I personally live by, such as not using violence against others to get what I want, and not having others use violence on my behalf. Therefore my only option is to stop accepting that money and as a consequence give up my position, albeit reluctantly, as a state funded teacher.

I then apologised for leaving them on their own and walked out of the class room. Half an hour later I had handed in my resignation and was driving home.’

 How has this decision affected your life?

‘Since resigning two weeks ago I know I have become a bit of a hero, I mean amongst the children –  most of my fellow teachers are horrified by what I have done because it calls into question their own moral principals. But some teachers have told me in private that they wished they had the guts to do the same thing.

I do miss teaching terribly – I miss interacting with the children terribly. This has left a huge hole in my life. But I could never bring myself to return, even if the school did invite me back’.

And what about the future?

‘I’m thinking about moving into the home education sector now. And I am going to write a book as well. It’s not just the funding aspect of state education which I now find untenable – it’s the whole environment of government schooling which I object to. Deep down I’ve always objected to it, but while I was teaching I had to stay in denial. I may be out of a job now but at least I am now free to speak my mind, and I can look children in the eye for the first time without feeling like I am betraying them too. I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful that feels!

I’ve started to research the history of government education. Did you know the system of schooling as we know it today can be traced back to the Prussian Schule system which was designed by the ruling classes to create an obedient, compliant, indoctrinated population? Within a few generations that population had become so hopelessly indoctrinated Hitler was able to persuade them to vote him into power. We all wonder how this could have happened. It was the school system!

We live in a world dominated by violent rulers waging perpetual wars. I think Abraham Lincoln was absolutely right when he said  ‘The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next ‘.

I may be out of a job but at least I’ve done my bit to steer the philosophy of the school room away from bullying, coercion and violence. I can only hope my pupils embrace the values of voluntary transactions, rather than the use of coercion and violence, and carry them forward into society as they grow up.

Ironically, my walking out in the middle of class may have turned out to be the best lesson I could possibly have given my pupils. I only wish I could do it again.’

  • What are your thoughts on the public being forced to fund teacher’s salaries?
  • What else are taxes used to pay for?
  • Did the teacher do the right thing?
  • If you rely on a government salary and the government suddenly ran out of money, would you use coercive tactics or even threats of violence to get people to pay your wages or would you try to find a peaceful, voluntary, ‘free market’ ways to earn a living?
  • Leave a comment below!
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