Obedient children will not change the world

A brave young girl called Anna Andronache has quite rightly become something of a star in Romania this week. Andronache, who is 14, attends a school in Targoviste at which staff abuse of pupils is commonplace but regularly goes unreported and unpunished. Via her Facebook account Andronache has begun to chronicle much of the wrongdoing at the school, from the mental cruelty (not being allowed breaks by vindictive teachers) to actual physical abuse. For her trouble she has been reprimanded and sidelined, her parents ostracised. One teacher has remarked that ‘it is not normal for a pupil to write about her teachers.’

It’s always easier to shoot the messenger than it is to deal with real problems.

One of the stories Andronache has written about features a teacher who hit a child (the reason is irrelevant). The child did not report the incident, but Andronache did and her father brought it up at a parent-teacher meeting. The response from the teacher? ‘The kid must have done something to deserve it.’ What’s more, another less than enlightened parent at the same meeting said that ‘hitting pupils does them no harm, it actually wakes them up a bit.’

Reading Andronache’s posts – and the hysterical reaction (of some) to them – it becomes increasingly clear how lucky we are to have found a Romanian state school for our kids at which they are encouraged to think for themselves and challenge what they are taught. Yes, there is too much homework and class sizes are enormous, but these are minor quibbles. How many schools in Romania have biology teachers ready to show their classes films about the Snopes trial, or put on screenings of To Kill A Mocking Bird? How many sports teachers encourage girls to play football? How many heads organise exchanges with schools in other countries, or invite pre-teen pop idols to sing on the first day of term so that those kids entering Class 0 or Class 1 are entertained as they enter the school building for the first time, and not intimidated?

There is absolutely no abuse of students – be it physical or verbal – and yet discipline is tight. This despite every class comprising more than 30 students. Performance is outstanding. How is all this possible? Because the teaching staff – led by the superb head – is dedicated, engaging and generally respected by pupils. Not out of fear, but out of recognition that they actually know what they’re talking about and might be worth listening to.

We are lucky and we know it: our kids’ school is the exception, not the rule, which is why we sit through the endless parent meetings with admirable stoicness.

Much of the anger being aimed at Anna Andronache (and her parents) comes from those backwards elements of Romanian society which do not view children as having equal rights as adults (indeed, many would argue children should have no rights at all). To these traditionalist groups, stuck in the Middle Ages, children should be brought up as obedient, unthinking, uncritical robots, accepting without question everything their parents, teachers, priest or any other adult tells them. Obedient children will not change the world, which is exactly the point: obedient children become obedient adults with an inherent deference to authority. The same mentality was behind the outrage at parents taking their kids on anti-corruption demonstrations.

It went unnoticed amid the turbulence of those demonstrations and the emergency ordinance that sparked them but on February 17th the senate rejected a bill which would have created the post of Children’s Ombudsman in Romania, appointed to defend the rights of the child. The so-called Family Coalition cheered. (We can now add children to the increasingly long list of groups the appalling coalition hates, a list still headed of course by women and gays).

By and large it is the same mindset that persists throughout the state education sector in Romania. The enlightenment idea that schools should be centres of science, reason, critical thinking and personal development has yet to reach this far east. There have been attempts in the recent past by a couple of more progressive education ministers (Daniel Funeriu in particular) to change things but the resistance to change within the system has always been far too deep-rooted.

The latest attempt to bring about change came late last year when school headteachers across Romania (no exceptions) were all forced to reapply for their jobs. Many were not successful, having failed the reselection exam (some with scores that were pitifully low). Alas, one of the first acts of the current government was to overturn the decision of its predecessor and restore all sacked headteachers to their posts.

Change is never good for the PSD. A generation of Anna Andronaches would be fatal.

PS No, that’s not Anna Andronache in the top photo. It’s Juan Guzman’s legendary photo of Marina Ginesta on top of the Hotel Colon in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.


16 thoughts on “Obedient children will not change the world

  1. Shame on you for linking to a 14 year old girls Facebook page, and shame on her parents/school for not teaching her a little about personal security and privacy settings.
    Always one sided stories and the school deserves a right of reply anyway.


  2. “PS No, that’s not Anna Andronache in the top photo. It’s Juan Guzman’s legendary photo of Marina Ginest on top of the Hotel Colon in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.”……………No doubt one of the many rifles Grandad Trotter smuggled into Spain?


      1. That’s an outrageous thing to say. Franco was a dictator who overthrew – by violent insurrection – the democratically-elected government of the Spanish republic. His rule was brutal.


      2. Hitler was democratically elected too… The Bolsheviks won a civil war too… Franco is “bad” for the lefties, he is “good” for conservatives. It was a civil war, isn’t it? If a lot of Spaniards hadn’t sided with him he couldn’t have won. And a majority could not decide on issues that the minority finds non-negotiable. Take the recent example of Romania, PSD was “democratically elected” isn’t it? Should I continue?…
        A question for you: do you consider Fidel a “good guy” or maybe Che?… Lefties lionized them! But if I am to chose between a Fidel and a Pinochet I will always chose the latter. That’s me. (BTW, Pinochet another great guy… He saved Chile.)


      3. I’ve looked up for Marina Ginestà:

        Marina Ginestà i Coloma (29 January 1919 – 6 January 2014) was a French-born Spanish veteran of the Spanish Civil War, who was a member of the Unified Socialist Youth.

        Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas (JSU) – Unified Socialist Youth was a youth organization formed in the spring of 1936 in Spain through the amalgamation of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Communist Party of Spain (PCE) youth groups. Its leader, Santiago Carrillo, came from the Socialist youth, but had secretly joined the Communist youth prior to the merger, and the group was soon dominated by the PCE.[1]

        Santiago José Carrillo Solares (18 January 1915 – 18 September 2012) was a Spanish politician who served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) from 1960 to 1982.



      4. Remember kids – in leftie world, up is down and black is white.

        Franco saved Spain from communism – and that’s precisely why he’s a bad man.


      5. Moreover, the picture is a fake!

        Marina Ginestà was not a fighter but a reporter for the Bolshevik newspaper “Pravda” (read “Fake News”).

        “As she was a reporter, it was the only time Ginestà was carrying a gun.[1]”
        Great courage to pose for camera, even on the roof of a tall building…
        Typical. Again, thanks.


  3. “How many schools in Romania have biology teachers ready to show their classes films about the Snopes trial, or put on screenings of To Kill A Mocking Bird?”

    Amazing! That is exactly what they teach at Harvard School of BIOLOGY. If I am not wrong the author of “To Kill…” was awarded the Nobel Prize in BIOLOGY, isn’t it?


    1. No doubt, because of the lack of such education in Britain so many of your fellow countrymen voted for Brexit…
      Romanians need to teach you some progressiveness…


  4. Remember, it’s OK to rebel – as long as it’s in favour of today’s leftist cause-de-jour.

    Also, I love it how leftist loudly shout their love of the theory of evolution – and then deny at the top of their lungs its obvious racial implications.

    But then again, leftism is all about cognitive dissonance.

    I take it Pavlik Morozov is one of Craig’s heroes.


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