Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The Morning After: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The Morning After: Comment

Article excerpt

When I was younger, I followed Prince's advice and partied like it was 1999. I was so dedicated, in fact, that I did this continually from 1988 to 2004. My past life as a relentless bon viveur has helped me to develop a certain expertise in functioning convincingly while enduring a hangover so intense that it would fell an elk. My vague memory of my time at college is of constant socialising followed by shaking off the effects of the night before like a wet dog. Now it takes me three days, which is why I no longer drink very often or very much.

My own experience, however, does not affect how I treat my students. If a student arrives in college still in the throes of a mood-altering substance, the appropriate response is clear: it would be irresponsible and potentially dangerous to allow them to remain on campus.

I once sat in an empty classroom awaiting 18 plasterers, only to discover that the entire group had been suspended for smoking "jazz cigarettes". Had those criminal masterminds evaded detection by not smoking directly beneath a security camera, I like to think that I would have sniffed out that something was awry. While there is little call for the use of heavy machinery or hazardous chemicals in my English session, the same cannot be said for many vocational courses. If I had missed the signs and sent them on to a construction workshop, the consequences could have been dramatic.

Dealing with students who display the after-effects of a big night out is a complex behavioural area to navigate in post-compulsory education, especially with those who are legally old enough to do just about everything the law allows. …

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