I am entirely in agreement with the school in Essex which banned triangular flapjacks after a boy was hit in the face by one thrown by a classmate.
After all, it seems to me, following extensive brainstorming of all three sides to the story, that there were only two other options open to the school:
- Insist that all pupils wear protective clothing and equipment when in the dining-hall. This would be costly, difficult to implement and cause a great deal of mess when pupils tried to put food in their mouths.
- Insist that no pupils must throw any item of food with sharper corners than 45˚. This would be hard to enforce, necessitating the equipping of all staff with a protractor and insisting that they carry them while in the vicinity of the dining-hall. Also, once a flapjack has been thrown at force, it’s quite hard to measure the angles.
You may wonder if there is another option: to ban the throwing of any food at all. No, silly. That is clearly absurdly simple and, in any case, violates pupils’ human rights.
The more I think about this story, the more angry I get. I mean, for goodness’ sake, what was the school THINKING of in allowing triangular flapjacks in the first place? Not only is it patently dangerous, it is also a violation of the natural order of flapjacks. Flapjacks are perfect when rectangular. If something’s not broken, why fix it? And, let’s face it, a triangular flapjack is more likely to be broken than a rectangular one.
A word about the danger. This is well-documented. For a start, in 2011 Michael Gove was once quite rightly stopped by security from taking a flapjack (or possibly, two, for goodness’ sake – also, for all we know they might have been triangular, too) into a cabinet meeting, which clearly posed enormous national risk.
Also, more importantly (to me), I was once questioned at length by security about my flapjack while having my artificial brain strip-searched painstakingly at Belfast airport. I remember this well. I remember being asked most accusingly, “What were you planning to do with this?” I remember innocently answering, “I was planning to eat it, actually.”
Thank goodness I had the presence of mind not to say I was planning deviously to cut it into two triangles and throw it at TWO people the moment I got on the plane. Imagine! A rectangular flapjack, no problem. Two triangular ones, DEADLY! Though equally nourishing and tasty.
Of course, that goes to the heart of why I am so wholly in favour of the brave decision by the school to ban triangular flapjacks: because, pedagogically, it is far better that pupils are allowed to discover for themselves that simple geometric truth, that a rectangle bisected diagonally from corner to corner becomes two equal triangles. Schools should not do everything for pupils; education is a journey and the most satisfying journeys are the hardest, as Nietzsche meant when he said that thing about mountains.
And every satisfying journey should have at least four right-angle turns.