One of the first mass protests was held in Wales after the deputy headmaster at Llanelli beat his student for passing the note to his neighbor. Upon learning of this, boys from all over the school at the age of 12 and older than September 5, 1911, came out to protest. They sang, shouted slogans, painted the walls of buildings with inscriptions in the spirit of “Down with the homework!”, And also attacked the “mother's sons”, who nevertheless decided to go to school. A few weeks before, a protest of local workers swept through the city. Therefore, when a reporter asked one of the schoolchildren why they were here, he replied: "Our fathers are on strike, why shouldn't we?"
By the end of the week schoolchildren were already on strike in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Halle, Birmingham, London and other industrial cities in Britain with a high concentration of the working population. In Leeds, more than three hundred schoolchildren took part in the protest march. A good example of their parents, who were on strike against low wages and hard work, taught the children to quickly unite and act decisively. The press covered each action in detail, which contributed to the spread of the “protest epidemic”. In total, the “schoolchildren revolution” has affected 62 British cities. In some of them, the directors had to close their schools and enter into negotiations with the protesters, who were very belligerent.
Schoolchildren on strike in east London
The demonstration in Manchester on September 9 was held at a large gathering of schoolchildren, who took strong sticks with them. They drove away the police and teachers who tried to hinder their march. Schoolchildren in Edgehill stoned street lamps with stones, blocked school gates in Swansea, smashed shop windows in Dundee, robbed a wine shop in Hartlepool. “They walked along the streets with a whooping and hooting like a gang of red-skinned people,” a British newspaper described one of the protest marches.
Most of the children protesting had to work after school to support their families. They were poor, and the future did not promise them anything good. Extensive homework, tyranny of teachers and harsh penalties for unfulfilled work - that’s what they said brought them to the streets.
British schoolchildren, 1911
They demanded a reduction in study hours and an increase in holidays, cheap textbooks, free pens and erasers, which would be given out to each student. They also called for the abolition of the practice of corporal punishment. One of the main slogans of the protesters was “No cane!” (“No cane!”).
Pupils from different schools wrote to each other appeals expressing warm support or threats. Some of them were quite melodramatic. “Comrades, my blood-bleak country cries out to me. I tell you, the time has come. Someone will have to die for our just cause! ” Another said: “Our fathers were starving to get what they have. We are ready to do the same. ” In Dublin, September 13, teachers at many local schools found their classes empty. Messages were left on the boards: “Any boy who has come to school and who has not followed his comrades will be killed by order of the Strike.”
The protests faded as rapidly as they appeared. In most cases, the children, having rebelled for several days, peacefully returned to their desks. Or furious mothers brought their children to the scruff and tearfully apologized to the teachers. Instigators of riots were severely punished. In Newcastle, a whole group of schoolchildren were lined up on the sports field and publicly whipped with a belt.
However, the system responded to the extensive protests of young students not only by repression. Some of the leaders of large English schools understood the nature of the protests and made adjustments to their educational process, really reducing homework a little. In the format of the country began a reform to improve the social security of school-age children. As for corporal punishment, they remained in force. The disciple could still receive a portion of the blows with a stick or a belt for disobedience. It was only in the 1980s that British schools would forever say goodbye to this kind of suggestion.