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The Exercise

Page 3

On Monday morning Paul introduced the exercise. Later, he told the court he could not have known that Jamie’s father had beaten up his mother so badly on the weekend that she was taken to hospital. Or that Jamie’s father was being held in jail, and Jamie was left in the charge of an older brother who was a thug. Maybe Monday morning was a poor choice for the exercise. Did the knife look too inviting?  Was it lack of imagination on his part? Probably he was carried away by the memory of the exercise in his own school days. Paul agreed it was a terrible misjudgement and said he felt deep regret. Whatever could be done to make amends he was prepared to do.

Jamie had rushed the table at the front, the court was told. He’d grabbed the knife and attacked the boy sitting directly in front of the teacher’s desk. The knife entered the chest, not the lungs, fortunately. The boy was in hospital for a short time. It was taking him much longer to regain his confidence and sense of trust. Jamie was sent to a school for difficult students. Paul had resigned immediately. The court was still deliberating further action.

Mr Brent, retired, read the report of the case in the newspaper and he collapsed. He’d always considered the exercise on fear one of the highlights of his teaching career. He’d used it many times without misadventure.

‘You couldn’t have known this would happen,’ Mrs Brent kept saying. ‘It’s not your fault. Stop blaming yourself.’

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