Why there must be teenagers in love
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So a top headmaster has banned his teenage students from having relationships. Good luck with that one, says Sharon Griffiths.
Sometimes you could worry about head teachers…
The headmaster of Ruthin School in North Wales has banned students from having boy/girlfriend relationships. Well, good luck with that one. He could end up as the King Canute of teenage hormones.
He's determined that students in his school should all concentrate on their exams to the exclusion of normal life and is taking it to extremes. He's even threatened to scupper their university entrance chances.
'Any student in a relationship will definitely get a worse reference from me,' he said.
Can he do that? Is it fair? Is it ethical? Or is it just incredibly petty and controlling?
He's even threatened to make a list of any students with boy or girlfriend and threaten them with expulsion.
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Well, that's a brilliant way to fan the flames of adolescent desire and make 16-year-olds martyrs to love. Tough luck on the parents forking out fees and having to find somewhere else.
'School is not the place for romantic relationships - ever,' said the headmaster.
Of course it is. If anything makes double maths on a Monday morning worth going to, it's a chance to swap smiles with the boy in the next row and show off by getting an answer before he does.
There are certainly added pressures in an enclosed community like a boarding school where students are living constantly close together, but education is about a lot more than exams - such as growing up, learning how to get on with people, and yes, falling in and out of love and dealing with high emotions and rejection. Coping with emotional turmoil is an essential part of life's experience and a practice run for what life later throws at you. Best get it over early.
School seems a good place to do that – especially as a good school can provide sensible support and all sorts of other distractions when things go wrong, work obviously being one of them.
Good grief, relationships between teenagers is entirely normal. As long as they're not being driven to distraction or having drink or drug-fuelled orgies every night, they should be encouraged or at least tolerated. Both my sons married girls they'd started going out with at school. There were other people in between but – like Ed Sheeran and his fiancée Cherry Seaborn - once you've known what people are like at school then there can be no secrets. You know them forever, which is a good place to start.
Even the ridiculously strict all-girls school my sister went to recognised the need to know something about the opposite sex. There were dances with the neighbouring boys' school, plays and concerts. For the rest of her life, my sister, never a Shakespeare lover, would go all dreamy at the mention of Hamlet, which makes me think rehearsals weren't that strictly supervised…
Teenagers will do what teenagers do. Trying to stop them will just make them even more determined. Far better to keep a benign eye on proceedings. And how does he distinguish between boys and girls having a romantic relationship or just being good friends? Or isn't that allowed either?
Adolescents who live like monks or nuns to concentrate on their work may end up with brilliant exam results. But probably not with the sort of easy social skills that will make them well-balanced human beings.
Then they'll quite likely waste all those lovely A grades by getting into university and desperately making up for lost time.
Better, on balance, to let youth have its fling. It is possible to be in love AND work hard, whatever the headmaster thinks.