“Either you take your hand off my chest, or I’ll take it off your wrist” is one of the milder examples of Jack Reacher’s rather blood-curdling approach to behaviour management. Stephen Petty, head of humanities at Lord Williams’s School writes in Tes.
What is it that makes the Reacher-teacher bond so close?
The short sentences. Are clearly a factor. With tired teachers. Familiar dark plots. Random American town. Reacher rocks up. Something stinks. Reacher delves. Confronts the henchmen. Usually unarmed. Eventually meets the really wicked guys in charge of the whole ruthless scam. Brutally neutralises.
A typical Reacher tale also stirs something a little deeper. Many of us surely wish for a similar character to drop into the world of teaching – someone who would personally and ruthlessly put a stop to all the bad stuff going on.
This might best begin with Reacher appearing as a mature trainee-teacher at a school run by a small-minded, bullying headteacher. (Maybe not at our own school, but we all know of at least one such place.) Jack would not put up with it for long. “I hate big smug people who think they can get away with things” is the Reacher mindset. He would soon be heavily persuading that head and any side-kicks to leave. And it’s always a mistake to refuse Jack: “I have to warn you. I promised my mother, a long time ago. She said I had to give folks a chance to walk away.”
But Jack’s work would not be over yet. He knows that there is an even more powerful ring in London to break – the guys who have been destroying school budgets, cutting teachers’ real pay and allowing the content and direction of education to be shaped by the whims and prejudices of the party-political clueless.
Eventually, he would track down the head of the department – the “Minister” as they call her. One to one. But it’s not quite as expected. No final, violent showdown. More like meeting the the Wizard of Oz really. Reacher is thrown. Things are not normally this nuanced. He feels an unexpected sympathy for her. She seems to have been trying to do some good. But she was plainly dropped in it. Just like him – so many times. Turns out she, too, has been secretly pining for a messianic Jack Reacher to come to the rescue. “You’re here at last”, she beams – and repeats another Reacher adage: “Don’t worry about why it went wrong. Just damn well put it right.”
Where’s a hero when you need one? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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