Teachers persistently found telling students about stuff are to face small electric shocks in an attempt to encourage them to desist.
Inspired by the famous Milgram experiment of the 1960s, the Teacher Electric Shocks (TES) differ from those administered during the well-known study in that the shocks are real.
With the ideal teacher to pupil talk ratio now standing at 1:9, some teachers struggle with the idea that they just have to shut up. Mohammed Ahmed from Leeds was one such teacher. He explains, ‘Having a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, I had become arrogant, believing that I had the right to tell students stuff about physics. Since receiving my shocks I know better. The nerve damage to my face makes it difficult for me to talk now, anyway.’
‘What’s great about this technique is that it’s so pupil-centric and democratic’ said Chris Topper, lecturer in Citizenship Education at the University of Carterton’s Centre for Learning. ‘Students have ‘shock pods’ on their desks. As soon a teacher starts talking, students can simply press a button and administer a shock. Of course, the power is completely in pupils’ hands: if a teacher is talking about something that interests the pupils, like Apple products for example, they may choose to let him or her continue.’
Ben Nicholls, a geography teacher at the Student Choice Academy (SCA) in Redditch says that the system has been instrumental in helping him develop into an outstanding teacher.‘To begin with, when I was trying to teach about something like desertification, I would tell the students all about it. Now I don’t say a word. I just put the title on the board and sit there until the kids find out about it for themselves. This can take a while, but eventually someone always looks it up on their phone and then everyone else copies it down. It’s wonderful to watch.’
The technique is not without its dangers. Last week a history teacher at the Progress for All Free School (PAFS) received a fatal electric shock while trying to explain the Tiananmen Square Massacre to a group of youngsters. She had been speaking for a total of 34 seconds. The coroner reached a verdict of accidental death. ‘It’s sad for her family’, said Paul Rambert, Principal at PAFS. ‘But, ultimately, she and those like her represent a threat to children’s education. It’s better that this threat is eliminated, at whatever cost.’