Did monitors have any real use?

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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by jtaylor » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:22 am

I think the hierarchy and monitor system was overall a good thing, with the main aspect being the aspiration to achieve and gain a position of authority, and the recognition of achievement which being a school/house monitor provided. I think it probably formed the foundations of wanting to progress in business, get up to the next level, take on more responsibility etc. So it wasn't about wanting the authority - it was more about wanting the recognition - as let's face it, the extra responsibilities were menial and boring, with the benefits being non-existent really.

I was Bob Sillett's last junior boys house captain, and a senior house monitor, but never made the exalted level of being school monitor/buttons, let alone CHAZ's SG position. But do remember hoping I'd be selected for at least being a school monitor, as a recognition of achievement amongst my peers - but clearly I was rubbish!

I remember thinking it would help on a C.V., demonstrating extra-curricular achievement and responsibility, I guess it did when it came to my UCCA/PCAS forms for Uni/Poly applications. I do remember it coming up at interview, so can't be bad. Actually, I'd say some of the best state schools have realised the "house" system, and inter-house competitions, along with the "prefect" system helps kids aspire to perform to the best of their ability, and have adopted this from the public school sector...
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by Observer » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:29 am

Historically, pre 1965 or so, monitors and more especially the house captain, had significant influence over the lives of junior boys. They effectively ran the house on behalf of the housemaster, who for much of the time would steer the ship with just an occasional touch on the tiller. Indeed, he hardly needed to be there.

Peter Kendell's obituary, published on the CHOBA, site recalls a time when Mid A was successfully run, with almost no adult supervision, by a boy who wasn’t even in his final year!

'Due to the calls of wartime, Middleton A was without a live-in senior Housemaster from 1943 to the last term of 1946. The Junior Housemaster was simultaneously Director of Music and for a period the only ordained cleric in the School, duties which kept him away from the House for a great deal of the time. In consequence the House was, to use  Headmaster Flecker’s own words, ‘somewhat neglected’.  Mid A was organised and run by the senior boys.

Peter Kendell was appointed House Captain ahead of some more senior than him. After a year in that capacity he became Senior Grecian for a further year but all the time living and studying in Mid A. The House was very successful winning an array of school silverware ranging from Music trophies through athletic Standards to Cricket Cup Ties.. Peter himself won his school 1st XV rugby colours together with a number of academic prizes.'

Unthinkable today
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by scrub » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:52 am

jtaylor wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:22 am
But do remember hoping I'd be selected for at least being a school monitor, as a recognition of achievement amongst my peers - but clearly I was rubbish!
I remember the time on my deps when the monitors/house captains/etc were to be announced, most of the boys in my house were actively hoping they wouldn't be chosen :lol: To be honest, we really didn't have to worry. Besides the house captain none of us were any good at rugby and cricket, and those of us who didn't have red and yellow cards on their school record commanded no respect from those below us. For most of us our natural inclination was to bend rules rather than enforce them.
jtaylor wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:22 am
Actually, I'd say some of the best state schools have realised the "house" system, and inter-house competitions, along with the "prefect" system helps kids aspire to perform to the best of their ability, and have adopted this from the public school sector...
I'd say it's far more widespread than just some of the best. I went to a small state primary school before CH and we had a house system, no prefects but certainly a head boy and girl. As did the ones in the UK and Aus my siblings went to. It wasn't in the Aus senior high school I went to for a year, or the Performing Arts high school my sibs went to, but it's a very common system IME, even if it's not an exact replica of the public school model.
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by michael scuffil » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:28 pm

I have mixed feelings about the monitorial system (in the old order).

I think, on the whole, it was good for the monitors and instilled a sense of responsibility, and although there were some officious bullies, unless there was a gang of them they did not do much harm and may even have undergone a character-improving experience by the time they left.

However, more generally it must be said that monitors were in practice unpaid staff with responsibilities often beyond their experience. I think up to two hours a day could be spent on monitorial duties, and sometimes important decisions had to be made. On one occasion an 11-year-old was repeatedly sick in the late evening (about 11.30). This attracted the attention of the junior-dorm monitor, who after a while found me (I was the second monitor with a cubicle in the dormitory). After a further while, I decided to wake the Matron (not a decision to be taken lightly): she agreed that he might just have appendicitis. We then had to find a master to take him to the sicker. (He didn't have appendicitis, but he might have done, and I might not have done anything. I wasn't a paramedic, after all.)

On another occasion, it transpired that two boys were being sexually abused (at night) by another, about a year their senior. This happened at a time when we had no housemaster resident in the house. Clearly the matter would be reported, but we monitors had to decide what to do overnight to reassure the victims.

Okay, these things didn't happen often, and monitors generally just took shoe inspections, roll calls, parades, served food onto plates, enforced silence in prep, and saw to reasonable order in the houses.
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by jtaylor » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:24 pm

michael scuffil wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:28 pm
Clearly the matter would be reported, but we monitors had to decide what to do overnight to reassure the victims.
Interesting that you as a child knew instinctively it should be "reported" to someone in authority.... and yet some staff, from what we've heard from the trials, did not instinctively feel the instinct to do the same in reporting even more serious abuse carried out by staff against kids, and worse it appears allowed them to carry on teaching and/or move to other schools with references...

Your natural caring instincts were clearly sound....
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by LongGone » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:55 pm

Were there cases of senior boys who, for whatever reason, were never appointed as a monitor?
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by J.R. » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:04 pm

As Marty and I have a similar interest in the great film 'IF', I'm sure he'll agree at least house monitors didn't have the power to use corporal punishment.
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by ZeroDeConduite » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:15 pm

LongGone wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:55 pm
Were there cases of senior boys who, for whatever reason, were never appointed as a monitor?
Yes - in part. For spending a balmy summer Saturday night at Horham fair trying to chat up a girl from Broadbridge Heath who had a Saturday job in Woolworths, on my return (at about 11.30pm) I was given 6 by Seaman and told that I would spend the next term as Trades Monitor, and thereafter wouldn't progress further.
My downfall was that I found the fair by chance on a cycle jaunt and had absolutely no money in my pocket, though I had 17/6 back in my house locker......
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by time please » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:21 pm

Were they not able to give out " Sit-downs " as punishment? I think it was a maximum of two ( 10 minutes ) before you were reported to a master. Nowadays I am not quite sure about using the word master!

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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by time please » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:25 pm

ZeroDeConduite wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:15 pm
LongGone wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:55 pm
Were there cases of senior boys who, for whatever reason, were never appointed as a monitor?
Yes - in part. For spending a balmy summer Saturday night at Horham fair trying to chat up a girl from Broadbridge Heath who had a Saturday job in Woolworths, on my return (at about 11.30pm) I was given 6 by Seaman and told that I would spend the next term as Trades Monitor, and thereafter wouldn't progress further.
My downfall was that I found the fair by chance on a cycle jaunt and had absolutely no money in my pocket, though I had 17/6 back in my house locker......
Six by Seaman or six by Newsome? My choice was Seaman because you knew what was coming and he got it over with directly. Newsome could try and fool you in thinking that you perhaps had got away with it, until he stood up selected a cane and said " well I suppose I have to punish you".

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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by sejintenej » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:21 pm

Observer wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:29 am
Historically, pre 1965 or so, monitors and more especially the house captain, had significant influence over the lives of junior boys. They effectively ran the house on behalf of the housemaster, who for much of the time would steer the ship with just an occasional touch on the tiller. Indeed, he hardly needed to be there.

Unthinkable today
In my days, the later fifties, it was the monitor team with none of them appearing to have a leading role. (Indeed we had one senior monitor whose loud playing was suggested as being the cause of the pop music ban). Boys, up to that time had already been inculcated with the house discipline so they already knew what was acceptable behaviour and what was not.

In response to another past (JR I suspect) Col A had the PO Path ande Mile punishments with times set at the beginning of term for each boy depending on their apparent physical characterisctics. The punishment included changing into / out of full uniform and for the oldest a mile was, from memory, 7 1/2 minutes. That implies a five minute mile. We did not require a retake immediately - that would have been too much and the person giving the punishment had the option of declaring it done after several close attempts. We had a punishment book which Kit SHOULD have looked at to ensure that we were not being over-officious.

Being a monitor gave authority but one learned that with that authority came responsibility for those under you which I hope spilled over into later life.
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by sejintenej » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:25 pm

michael scuffil wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:28 pm

However, more generally it must be said that monitors were in practice unpaid staff with responsibilities often beyond their experience. I think up to two hours a day could be spent on monitorial duties, and sometimes important decisions had to be made. On one occasion an 11-year-old was repeatedly sick in the late evening (about 11.30). This attracted the attention of the junior-dorm monitor, who after a while found me (I was the second monitor with a cubicle in the dormitory). After a further while, I decided to wake the Matron (not a decision to be taken lightly): she agreed that he might just have appendicitis. We then had to find a master to take him to the sicker. (He didn't have appendicitis, but he might have done, and I might not have done anything. I wasn't a paramedic, after all.)
True but we learned to make such decisions and take the flak afterwards (if there were any). You also had the satisfaction of knowing that you had averted a possible serious problem. I hope matron said "Thank you" afterwards
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by jhopgood » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:40 pm

time please wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:21 pm
Were they not able to give out " Sit-downs " as punishment? I think it was a maximum of two ( 10 minutes ) before you were reported to a master. Nowadays I am not quite sure about using the word master!
When I was the junior dorm monitor, which involved reading on a Saturday, early on I discovered people crawling around under the beds. Before I could discover who it was, they were all back in bed.
As no-one owned up I put the all on an hour sit-down in the dorm, all on their settles facing the wall.
Never had another problem and only gave about 3 running punishments in the whole year.
On the other hand, the dayroom monitor gave about 70 a term.
Never reported anyone to a master, seemed to me that was a loss of face on my part.
Can't remember too much trouble with anyone, but then my bark always was worse than my bite.
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by J.R. » Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:57 pm

Sitdowns ? I never came across them.

I recently tried to trace the whereabouts of the school and house punishment books a few years ago. They had to be kept by law at the time. Guess what ?

YUP ! Amesia rules, OK ?
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Re: Did monitors have any real use?

Post by sejintenej » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:10 pm

jhopgood wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 4:40 pm

Never had another problem and only gave about 3 running punishments in the whole year.
On the other hand, the dayroom monitor gave about 70 a term.
Never reported anyone to a master, seemed to me that was a loss of face on my part.
Can't remember too much trouble with anyone, but then my bark always was worse than my bite.
I don't know if Col A even had the "Sit Down" punishment. We got the tryons at the beginning of the autumn term so a few punishment were handed out then to sho that we would not put up with nonsense. After that it got quiet - I was generally around to do the timing for all the punishments given and I don't suppose I did more than two timings a week if that.
Reporting to Kit; Beare did report me in my first week because I refused to volunteer for something (and made him look bad, the ******) but AFAIK that was the exception in many years
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