Poll: Gorleston teacher bans ‘banter’ from the classroom, but is he right?

Lynn Grove High School, Gorleston.

Lynn Grove High School, Gorleston. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Norfolk teacher has banned the word 'banter' from his classes, saying it is used to excuse bullying.

Mike Stuchbery, an English teacher at Lynn Grove High at Gorleston, said pupils often tried to shrug off their bad behaviour by saying: 'It's only banter.'

Mr Stuchbery, an Australian, explained his decision on his blog - www.mikestuchbery.net.

He said: 'I'm no stranger to jokes. I adore 'em. However, I loathe banter.

'Once a term that was used to signify 'light-hearted joking, a gentle ribbing of a friend', it now seems to be a catch-all term for any sort of off-colour or inappropriate behaviour.

'If I catch somebody nicking someone's pencilcase, calling another student a derogatory name or thumping them on the back, nine times out of ten I'll be met with a 'Siiiiir, it's just bantaaaaaaaah!'.'

He added: 'It's as if kids think squawking these words in the tone and cadence of an East End fishmonger is some sort of magic 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card.

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'Banter is everywhere. It's on TV, radio and especially the internet. Chuck 'banter' into Facebook and you'll get hundreds of pages dedicated to ripping a person, group or organization to shreds.

'Through repetition and the magic of social media, banter has become an acceptable, friendlier-sounding term for bullying. It attempts to mask inappropriate, appalling behaviour under the guise of some sort of ancient, noble, especially British tradition.'

He said banter was 'loathsome', because it shifted the blame to the victim, and added: 'The kid on the receiving end is further marginalized because they don't get it, they're not part of the joke.

'So, here's what I'm going to do.

'Before another kid has an opportunity to use the term, I'm going to sit my classes down and explain that I'm no longer going to take 'banter' as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour in my classroom. I'm not interested in it. It carries no weight with me.

'From now on, I'm demanding that students are accountable for their behaviour – no more escape clauses. I'm not going to let a cheeky little spiv of a word cover up any more hatefulness.'

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