Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"Share" and Other Lessons Taught at Knight School

BBC News has an article on something called "Knight School," an eight week program which the police in Lincolnshire are using to reform unruly youth, and I see that the Telegraph has a more detailed story. The BBC's piece is mostly tongue-in-cheek. They asked three medievalists what one could learn from medieval knights and have provided a list of ten lessons, summed up well by Carl Pyrdum of Got Medieval:
Kids! Be like knights! Don't get into fights. But in the fights you do get into, be merciful! Also, beat up bullies! But tell people your friends did it!
According to the Telegraph, however, the school itself is serious. Its founder, Sgt Gary Brown of the Spilsby Police Department, is in the running for Britain's Policeman of the Year and was runner up for the Criminal Justice Award 2005 category for Outstanding Contribution to Tackling Youth Crime. The Telegraph story focuses in on a young boy named Jack whose been transformed since passing through the school. We also learn a bit about how Sgt. Brown's efforts have transformed his town:
On the odd occasion that Stephanie [Jack's mother] went out in the evening, she would look despairingly at the loutish and raucous teenagers who gathered at the bus shelter in the town centre to drink lager and swear at passers-by and hope she wasn't glimpsing Jack's future. "I would think to myself, 'In less than 10 years perhaps that's what Jack will become' ."

Since then, two things have changed. Jack is merely mildly mischievous but is a model of good manners. And the lager louts who made many of Spilsby's 3,000 residents wary of venturing out after dark are more likely to be found playing carpet bowls against the pensioners they once abused, scrubbing graffiti off walls, cleaning up road signs, collecting litter and cutting down trees to create parkland. The town is transformed too.

Anti-social behaviour and crime rates have been halved, the streets are clean and the inhabitants have an air of jaunty self-confidence. The shops now bustle with the daily banter of a close-knit community that takes a pride in the market town.
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