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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A waking nightmare

Jaded as I am, I had a most jarring experience in class yesterday. I had just read aloud Guy de Maupassant’s famous 1884 short story, The Necklace, and reached the horrible twist in the last line – when Matilda Loisel realizes that she and her husband have ruined their lives for nothing – an ending which makes me shiver forty years after I first heard my mother telling me the story, and believe it or not, many of the children in the class laughed! They found the wanton ruination of two human lives funny! These were kids in their early teens, too, people who you would think had not lived long enough for their innate intelligence and sympathy to be deadened by too much sordid worldly experience.

All I can say is Jesus Christ… what kind of adults are they going to grow into? People who will laugh to see parents or children being crushed by trucks on the highway, and carry on with life as though nothing very significant has happened?

Mind you, most of these are what these days is called ‘bright’ students, in the sense that they get reasonably good marks in school science and math tests, and (merely extrapolating from so many years of teaching experience) I can confidently predict most of them will be in medical and engineering colleges a few years from now.

Is the world filling up with monsters? Would I want one of those engineers to build a house for me, leave alone ask one of those doctors to look after me in my old age? (do scroll down a bit to the post titled Morality Training for doctors?)

One thing that I am now convinced about: you need to teach people to feel (good feelings, especially, not the brute ones like anger and greed and sloth and avarice and vengeance, which, heaven knows, have never needed to be taught) just as you need to teach math and science. Unfortunately, education worldwide has concentrated maniacally on the latter kind of teaching, to the detriment of the former in the name of ‘progress’ – assuming that people will just somehow learn to become good human beings by themselves, automatically. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind.

28 comments:

Sunup said...

Sir,

After reading the post, I was reminded of an incident that took place sometime back. I was going to my home-town on a Friday evening, and the location was Bangalore City railway station. An elderly lady was lying unconscious on the platform and two youngsters (not her relatives or traveling companions -- just 2 good Samaritans) were trying in vain to revive her through CPR. Quite a number of people had gathered around and some were trying to locate the railway medical authorities, some others calling for '108' ambulance service. Just then a couple of guys looked in and made this 'smart' comment, opening beaming -- "Entha, thalla thattipoyo?" -- which translated is crude malayalam for "What happened, has the lady passed away?". I can't think of a crude alternative for passed away, but 'thattipoyo' is really crude.
So in a radius of 10 meters, I met so many sets of people -- some trying to revive the person, some trying to find help, some concerned onlookers (like me, and am ashamed to say that I didn't take any initiative to help her), some who walked past without caring a bit, and some who takes merriment from seeing an elderly lady sinking.
But coming back to your post, sir, I am a bit baffled. Can one really teach or impart 'feelings' in someone? Isn't it something that comes from your heart. I have always felt so. Correct me if I am wrong.
Regards,
Sunup

sayantika said...

Dear Sir,

Feelings are really hard to come by these days. One of my friends from Presidency had expressed her sadness when a fire broke out in our college's chemistry laboratory recently. But her colleagues mocked her for being too emotional for something 'trivial'. Are people simply turning insensitive? If it is so, the world would indeed be filled with 'monsters'.
Yours sincerely,
Sayantika.

Shilpi said...

That story itself is something that makes me feel many emotions but mirth isn't one of them. Not in the first visceral instant and not after careful consideration. I mention this because it's always good to see where one stands before trying to make any sense of the insensible (considering that one's own self doesn't always seem or sound very sensible...).

What I found myself wondering is whether those children who laughed had a clue as to why they laughed. Did they not understand the story or did they understand it and still find it funny?....Either way it's one of those incidents that fill me up with a cold horror.

Earlier I had imagined that people who read a fair bit were more likely to be a little more aware, a little more thoughtful, a little more perceptive, a little more sensitive. These days I'm unwilling to make any bets on this.

I have the lurking suspicion that all people in important places (and otherwise) subconsciously sense that it's easier to teach children mediocre science and provide some technological training (and to hypnotise the trainees into believing that they are innovators and creators and the cat's whiskers) than to teach children (leave alone grown-ups) about beauty, kindness, justice, simplicity, goodness, basic honesty, empathy, sympathy, and sensitivity...Within the context of education people don't even bother saying these days that discussing these elements are a waste of both time and money, and this is one of the things that gnaws at me. One is expected to know that these are not matters that need to be discussed and/or explored. Life's meaning is to be found in technological innovation apparently....and in the many brands of scientific research.

Waking nightmare just about sums it up. The best one can do is to not lose one's marbles completely or to not become too jaded, I guess.

Sorry about this massive comment. I did hack off some parts though this time around.

Take care.
Shilpi

Arijit said...

If I am not wrong you once showed our batch a movie. A scene on horse fighting was cast in the film and some of our class fellows started to laugh on it. You gave them a serious scolding.
A few days ago I came across a piece of news where a woman named Munni, in PAKISTAN was teased by her customers who sung "Munni badnaam hui darling tere liye."Unfortunately she had to close her shop.
I myself have also faced such teasing. Where lies the fun in such teasing I don't understand.
People who laugh at others misfortune are but brazen morons.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I think, Arijit, that I said exactly the same thing very vehemently in this post:

http://suvrooncemore.blogspot.com/2009/06/is-all-fun-funny.html

And Sunup, I am waiting for a few more comments to come in before replying to yours.

Archishman Sarkar said...

Hello Sir,

Well, one can answer most of the questions you asked in this post very clearly and truthfully (provided the person is observant and has somethings called "brain" and "heart").

First.What kind of adults are they going to grow into? -- Most heartless, cruel and pathetic creatures that ( yes 'that' not 'those')will walk on earth. I sincerely hope that their children don't catch the same teachings and "feelings".

Second. People who will laugh to see parents or children being crushed by trucks on the highway, and carry on with life as though nothing very significant has happened?-- " oh Dad! Listen Almost 30 people die when the drunken bus driver hit a tree and fell in a ditch! Hahah. How silly?!! Oh sorry~ It's not 30 but 37! Ha! What a waste!"! This has become very common thing in almost every other household...as if those extra 7 person's deaths were like Rs 7 spent on Bread! As the scale increases this grows more rampant. Like "300000 people died when an Earthquake hit the region!". It does not matter about the number they will never know the significance of a "life"!

Third. Is the world filling up with monsters? -- "Oh hell yes!!" I am seeing scores of them every day! Who does not care to donate or help. Oh forget that even at least give a seat to an old lady while traveling in the bus! No! They won't!

Basically, the world is changing for the worse. Being observant I can see it daily with my own eyes ( People flocking to see a gruesome accident but not giving a hand at all), newspapers and people talk! And I know that you had seen this coming long long back!

Okay, I am no hero, I just care about my neighbors, I care about the people around me, this earth and when I find these "monsters" around more than getting angry at them I get sad!

According to me, "The Necklace" can be referred to as a story which can change the way a man sees things especially human suffering and emotions. At least it did for me!

Sincerely yours.

DEBARATI said...

Dear Sir,

This post reminds me about in incident that took place few years ago. I was walking towards the M.G. Road metro station in Kolkata when I spotted an old lady on the way crying out of pain. Initially I passed by her. But then I was hit by a jolt of shame. I walked back and lifted her up. It was then that others around noticed the poor lady. I asked for a glass of water in the nearby shop for her.
I don't intend to say this to mean that I have done a great job. But all I want to say is that, it was a basic responsibility which I fulfilled. But the others around didn't. Not even the person who was with me.

People have reached the apex of insensitivity and even after that they don't cease. Their mirth lies in expensive phones, ipods and other such gadgets. They are not even bothered to take care of their parents in need, forget about taking care of a ailing person on street!

There's just one phrase for them:
INHUMAN WRETCH OF MONSTERS!

Debarati.

Anand Tiwari said...

Dear Suvro da,

This is disturbing but not entirely unexpected. People today have lost touch with their inner selves. They have little emotional attachment with anything that does not serve their own selfish purpose. This is a direct consequence of capitalism that India has so lovingly embraced. Greed and self appeasment is the name of the game. Live and let die is the mantra for success (as defined by contemporary society). People are only concerned about themselves and their own selfish interests. They care 2 hoots about their fellow humans, animals or nature. I am not sure how you handled this insensitive behavior in your class. I would have these kids banished forever. I wonder what values (if any) their parents subscribe to and are instilling in their wards. How are you able to tolerate such crap?

anand

P.S: The detioration in human values over the last 20 years is mind boggling. India is perhaps leading the way in this respect. Nowhere is the decline so amplified and evident. What a shame. This is the country that produced Gandhi?

DEBARATI said...

Sir,

I am sure you have come across today's news about the murder committed by a software engineer in Dehradun. How can a human being chop off a body( leave alone his wife)into pieces? Not only that the young chap put the pieces of the body in the freezer over months. The news send shivers up my spine! Height of inhumanity!

Chitra said...

I was going through the comments and I still can't get over Sunup's post "Entha, thalla thattipoyo!" Knowing exactly what it means, i am appalled that people would make such a comment. This in Bengali would be something like, "Ki re...boodi out na ki?!"
Utter disgust. That's all i feel at the moment.

Abhirup said...

Dear Sir,

Having experienced something quite similar a few days back, I can understand exactly what you mean. As I told you, I had gone to see the film 'Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey', which deals with the Chattagram armory raids, and when the revolutinaries (Surjya Sen and his comrades-in-arm) were being shot dead or hanged, I saw a bunch of people----most of them my age, the others a little older----chortling. The gross insensitivity of their behaviour left me speechless for a while. But now, after reading this blogpost, and mulling over some other unpleasant incidents that I have had, I realize that this kind of conduct is pretty much the norm these days. To this generation, nothing (be it the tragedy of Matilda and her husband in 'The Necklace' or the martyrdom of freedom fighters) deserves to be taken seriously. Everything can be reduced to 'fun'. I wonder if today's youth care about anything beyond shopping (when they spend shamelessly on flashy but useless gizmos and the latest designer clothes which remain 'latest' for only a month), pub-hopping, parties, love affairs of the most juvenile and laughable sort, and similar trifles. Their parents are just as disgusting, pampering their wards and indulging, even encouraging, their shallowness and materialism. There was a time when parents used to teach values and scruples to their kids. Today, all they are concerned about are the marks the children score, and the jobs they get subsequently. Reading habits have been destroyed, the capacity to appreciate good films, music and works of art are more or less non-existent, virtues like courage, compassion and honesty are treated as abstractions (I saw a fellow sporting a T-shirt that says 'F*** honesty, I want the best in life'), and subjects like history (in other words, subjects that are of no help in scoring well in the Joint Entrance) are unanimously regarded as useless. Is it any wonder, then, that the world is filling up with the kind of monsters Sir is talking about?

There was a time when people used to laugh and cheer when hungry beasts devoured people alive in the colosseum. Centuries later, people laughed and jeered when others were forced into gas chambers. And today, tales of others' suffering and misfortune still seem funny to certain kinds of creatures (who, alas, constitute the majority of the population). This makes me wonder: how much have we progressed, really? And shall we need another Holocaust or deadly famine before we understand that not everything in the world is fun and frolic?

With regards,

Abhirup Mascharak.

Anand Tiwari said...

Dear Suvro da,

I read your post again and i have to repeat: Nowhere is the decline in morals and values more apparent than in India. I cannot identify myself in anyway with the current generation of parents/kids and with the country as a whole. The Durgapur/Bengal and India that i identify with exist only in my memories. Why are these kids in school? They will certainly not learn anything that will make them remotely human.

anand

Suvro Chatterjee said...

In response to Ahirup:

Recall Tennyson's chilling lines "...and God fulfils himself in many ways/ lest one good custom should corrupt the world". I am sure that poets know better than engineers, and even economists. I am now so revolted by the mindless worship of 'progress' (and its even baser cousin 'development') that I am close to praying that the world sees some real and vast traumas again, sometime soon. Mankind as a whole needs to sober up...

Sayan Datta said...

Blasphemy is considered smart and sexy and to laugh at the sacred and venerable is the fad of the age. The general notion is that if one cannot understand or appreciate a certain idea or concept it is better to laugh it off. This saves oneself the guilt of not taking the effort and the ego deflating feeling of having neither brains nor sensitivity.
Serious study in any sphere requires one to be sensitive, to be humane, to be able to think analytically and in general to be a reasonable and sane human being. I do not think that one can go about imparting these qualities as one can go about filling a bucket. Even the best teacher in the end can only inspire his/her students to follow a certain path. Whether they do or not is obviously not in his/her control.
Children, I think are born more confident and more eager to learn and explore than what they become in their teens. How does this happen? Well, I believe they are taught, carefully taught to be afraid of the more enterprising and the more thoughtful. They are taught to follow the herd mindlessly and they are taught to sacrifice ideals for money. Our first teachers- our parents should take the major part of the blame for the kind of people we have become and the kind of place our country has become.
Sayan Datta

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

It's Christmas and the holidays here.

Everyone is playing up the theme of the season - "it's tough. very tough out there this year", "things are bad, can you believe it? kids are sending messages to Santa to send them basic necessity stuff like socks and clothes! not video games and barbies. Isn't that absolutely heartbreaking? The Food Bank is out of food, hasn't happened in 25 years."

Hey, all this happened due to the greed and dishonesty of people amongst us. Let's not play naive here.

I still see the fancy cars, big houses, expensive parties like never before!

It's the age of fooling, kidding, cheating, defrauding, pulling wool.

Try to have some fun, till Suvro's words come true.

Rashmi Datta said...

Sir,this post reminds me of two incidents.
During the 26/11 mumbai blasts,I was staying in a hostel (the atmosphere was equivalent to the aim IIT residential institutes in Kota).As soon as I heard of the horror going on in Mumbai,I asked my hostel incharge to provide us with newspapers (Newspapers were not allowed into the campus premises and we were not allowed to go out!).She refused to allow me to read anything about the blasts saying it would 'distract' me from my studies.When I retaliated and told her she was being being inhuman,I was accused of creating 'nuisance' in the hostel and all my friends were warned to keep away from me! I finally had to 'smuggle' newspapers into the campus!
A 'bright' and 'informed' student (actually a 'topper') once told me why she thought that the people of a certain religious community had to be killed, simply because their number was rising with respect to other communities!(She is presently studying in IIT).
I shiver as I think of the world a few years from now! Even as they laugh at people being crushed under trucks,they may even go about killing others just for fun!
The world is indeed filling up with monsters and I feel sorry for all the babies being born into this world.
Sir,do you have any hope that this situation would ever reverse?
Warm regards
Rashmi

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Yes, Rashmi, and it all springs from the now-deep rooted dogma that technical progress can substitute all humanitarian feelings. About this, I am sure, having seen far too many technically competent people from up close, which is why, whenever I have to trust a doctor, engineer, teacher or finance expert, I try very hard to find out what sort of a human being s/he is... and I congratulate myself on having avoided a great deal of suffering and trouble this way.

And Sunup, we teachers must keep trying, mustn't we, even if the task is difficult enough to be well-nigh impossible? In the mass, it is of course possible to teach good feelings as much as reinforce bad ones: so children brought up by any church (except those openly dedicated to violence) are as a rule somewhat more humane than those brought up in places like Nazi training camps. Besides, what else need literature and the social sciences be taught for? Recall that they have always been referred to as the humanities. They don't teach you to extract teeth or write software code or repair boilers, so what are they supposed to teach, if not to be better human beings?
Sir

Nishant Kamath said...

Dear Sir,

While I do find it quite unfortunate that some students found 'The Diamond Necklace' funny, I feel a bit disconcerted by the fact that many of the comments here mention 'People of today..' and 'The present generation...' and such. It's not that I am offended because I too belong to the present generation. It's just that humans have always been capable of lots of shocking things. Two thousand years ago some people felt insecure because a certain man was trying to preach good things to people and so they crucified him. Around sixty years ago a man who preached non violence and adhering to the truth, come what may, was assassinated by a person who belonged to an extremist (and therefore probably ignorant and narrow-minded) group. In between we had numerous bloody wars and battles fought in the name of religion, for world domination, and greed for power and wealth. In the last century alone we had two major wars where millions of lives were lost and many millions destroyed. Jonathan Swift wrote his rather harsh satire on the human nature (and their governments and learning and religious intolerance, among others) around three centuries ago. I remember watching episodes of 'Medical Detectives', which portrayed absolutely heinous crimes committed by men more than thirty of forty years ago.

Taking a cue from one of your previous posts, 'Millennial Musing', I would say that while things have changed over the centuries (maybe quite a lot in the worldly sense), it's quite difficult to change the way humans think. And if we see corruption, greed, sloth and ignorance around us now, I'm sure they're not completely new but have existed for as long as humans have existed. The way they express them might have changed over time. And while I am disappointed by the reaction of some of the students to the short story, I wouldn't necessarily draw inferences about the entire present generation based on it.

Sincerely
Nishant.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I do hope you are right, Nishant: I pray you are.

Of course history has been full of nightmares - you know me well enough to understand that what I really fear is that they might be coming back!

Subha said...

Sir, I think the parents of these school kids first need to be taught that they should teach their children to think and feel.

This is utterly shocking, simply shocking! Just before writing this comment, I told the story of "The Diamond Necklace" to my friend with whom I am sharing this room. He was literally shocked after hearing it.

How can these children of the 9th and 10th standards find such a thing funny? I just do not understand. They are literally sick, mentally retarded children, and being brought up by mad parents.

This is all that I have to say about them.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Your use of the words 'sick' and mad' reminded me of a question a boy asked in class a long time ago: 'Can an entire society be sick?' My answer was categorical: not only can whole societies be sick, but they usually are - it is individual voices which talk about sanity (and usually get horribly punished for it!). Think of slavery that was considered normal and good for thousands of years, think of sati, think of Galileo and the heliocentric theory, think of the divine right of kings ... every society is sick in various ways. Ours is sick in this way that all mindless, greedy, barely-educated adults are quite sure they know what is right for their children. And that 'right' certainly does not include attaching much importance to becoming humane!

JD said...

While I was at Xavier's, we used to have the Moral Science Period. I used to wonder then, what good is the subject... where is it applicable?

Well I think, now I truly understand the importance of the subject and thank my school for the same. I realize that though I may not remember the exact teachings, but I feel, those discussions and going through the Moral Science Book once in a while did imprint certain values & learnings in the mind, which helped one to be a better human being.

What is your opinion on this aspect Sir? Do you think that Moral Science as a subject do have an effect on students?

Joydeep Mukherjee
2002 Batch
St Xavier's School

Suvro Chatterjee said...

There is a post titled 'Moral Science' in this blog itself, Joydeep. Do look it up.
Sir

Rashmi Datta said...

Dear Sir,
A disturbing incident that took place this morning made me to revisit this blogpost.
Although I teach Mathematics and Science, topics like good books, good movies, the power of discretion, the mindless following of the herd, etc. often prop into my classes. This morning, one of my students (a 15 year old) started a discussion on Harry Potter. He told me that he was quite fascinated and attracted by Voldemort’s idea of making horcruxes and his ‘ intelligent strategies’ to make himself immortal .He said that anyone who wanted to become immortal could emulate him (if only in one’s imagination). Having read the Harry Potter series and your blogpost on it very carefully, I was both shocked and horrified. Looking at my facial expression, he added quickly that the only drawback of the strategy would be to kill people, which is a crime.
It took me a while to think clearly and then I started explaining to him anxiously about how Voldemort got his power and his temporary immortality at a very great cost, that he was barely human after he made all his horcruxes and that he had become insensitive to all human emotions and tortured people for fun. A little offended, he told me that I should admit that he was very intelligent. I said that I did know that he was intelligent and ambitious but asked him to reflect what those qualities saddled with greed, arrogance, narrow mindedness and complete insensitivity did to him at the end. I told him that Voldemort’s character teaches us a very big lesson in life.

Apparently, Albus dumbledore did not attract him as much as Lord Voldemort.
Sir, an open, unabashed fascination for evil and the extreme insensitivity for any kind of pain, makes me freeze with fear. This boy is a ‘bright student’ and is obsessed with gadgets. I am sure that his mother wouldn’t approve of my ‘wasting’ time on such ‘unnecessary’ things in class. I see that most of my students can appreciate nothing in a movie nowadays except visually stunning sequences and they laugh at people who cannot handle a computer! I wonder what more proof people need to admit that we are looking at the most lazy and mindless parents of all time and that we are making a gross mistake which will lead us all to our doom.


Rashmi Datta

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Reflect, Rashmi (and I have in mind a dictum that Russell and Tagore insisted upon), that while the only good use of power is when it is exercised with care and compassion, the common, raw attraction of power is that it can be used to dominate, enslave and hurt, and that has always been far more cool and sexy, not merely to callow teenagers (JKR had Hitler clearly in mind when she created Voldemort)! In this context, reflect on the possibility that there has been a civilizational break since the Middle Ages (about which not everything was bad, as some philosophers of history are beginning to aver): for thousands of years, the ideal of knowledge was acquiring wisdom, by which it meant knowing ourselves well so that we could learn to live in harmony with Nature both external and internal; but since Francis Bacon at the end of the 16th century declared that 'knowledge (by which he meant technology) is power (and pelf), the world has become more and more obsessed with pursuing knowledge only for the sake of its utitity - and that too, only selfish, immediate, material, sensual utility. Given such a zeitgeist, it is not difficult to understand why parents and children alike cannot understand any other meaning or purpose of knowledge any more: becoming better human beings simply doesn't make sense to them (after all, there are pills and cosmetic surgery to make us look and feel better now, right? So what else do we need?) It follows that monsters and monstrosities will abound, until there is a cataclysmic reaction ( a talibanisation of the world!), and that too, is something that terrifies me, for again and again history tells us that the cure can be worse than the disease, whether you think of Sparta fighting degeneracy, or Savonarola fighting the worldly excesses of the Church, or the Bolsheviks fighting the scourge of capitalism. This boy you talked about has no idea how common a type he is, nor how despicable, nor how useless to civilization. Neither, I am sure, could you ever convince his mother. Remember I told Sayan that in ten years' time, as a teacher of science who still has a brain, he's bound to become either a successful crook or a very frustrated man?

Biswajit Biswas said...

Sir, I think you have heard about yesterday's accident (for those who don't know about it: http://www.anandabazar.com/29hgly1.html)... Yesterday, a few boys were making fun of it although most of those boys knew both, the girl and her brother, who passed away in the accident. That day (the one you have written about in this blog) you had asked us, "Does everything in life sound funny to you? Everything is a joke?", I had thought that it is impossible. How can someone be so heartless (how can anyone make fun of a friend who has passed away just a few hours back?)? I don't know how, but it seems that I was wrong. There are people, who either have no feelings for others (perhaps not even for their own family) or are confused about their feelings.
My Biology tutor, often jokes (while teaching us about some deadly disease) "we have millions in this country , if the population decreases by one or two , it hardly matters". He finds this funny and expects the students to laugh at it (and they do laugh at it). I wonder if he has ever placed himself or his loved ones in the place of the "one or two" he talks about. Has he ever bothered to think? The answer is, of course, no.
-Biswajit Biswas

Biswajit Biswas said...

http://www.livescience.com/13083-criminals-brain-neuroscience-ethics.html

It says, " Criminologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University studies the tendency toward being callous and unemotional (CU) in children between 7 and 12 years old. Children with these traits have been shown to have a higher risk of becoming psychopaths as adults."

I wonder what they will say about children, who are not just cruel or unemotional but find the death of others (even friends) funny. Will the world turn into a slaughterhouse where humans will kill each other merely to have fun? Or will it turn into something even worse?

-Biswajit Biswas

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for commenting, Biswajit. This incident has obviously upset you badly. I am glad, despite the tragedy, that it has made someone think a little. I have several things to say, so I shall write point-wise:

1) This accident is a horrible piece of news. I knew the family, of course, but it's not just that: it's because I keep writing and talking about the issue again and again, and so few seem to care! Have you noticed that though we are all saturated with daily news of such disasters, people still keep driving around like maniacs because they are all sure that accidents happen only to 'other' people?
2)I am glad that someone not only remembered my remarks in that class almost two years ago, but could connect it so well with this recent incident. And I am sad that you seem to be the only one from that batch who is bothered (at least to the extent of taking the time out to write comments here).
3) I am no longer even dismayed that many of your friends think this was something to laugh over. As I have said earlier, given the kind of 'education' they have been receiving, they can hardly be expected to do anything better. Your Biology tutor is himself merely a product of that kind of education, so he can't help talking that way: unlike you, he never acquired the mental equipment to emotionally feel akin to his fellow men. Haven't I said that mere age and degrees don't make a better human being? - Are you sure that he is capable of 'teaching' you anything that you couldn't learn by yourself; that you are not wasting time and money on bad company?
4)That last bit of 'research' is laughable: any observant person with long experience of life could tell you as much; you don't have to be a criminologist to be able to do it. The real horror is that given the kind of upbringing children are getting these days, it wouldn't be surprising if most of them grew up not only callous but bloodthirsty. Who knows but the Roman gladiatorial games might make a comeback. After all, if you think of the WWE shows on TV or movies like "Mad max' or 'Fight Club'...
5) And finally, I do wish you'd interact with me a little more in the few months that are left to us. You have talked (and even written) so little in all this time that, if you hadn't sent in these comments, I might never have noticed you at all, leave alone being interested. Now I can hope you might keep in touch with me even after the classes are over, as a few old boys do. Otherwise, given the kind of batches I have this year, I should have thought most of them wouldn't be able even to remember my name two years from now!