Sunday, May 08, 2005

One week

Apathy Jack writes:

“Hey sir, guess what?”
“Get it over with.”
“Tipsy’s living at my house.”
“Oh for fu... Are you trying to kill me?”
“Hey, it was my parents’ idea – they want to help straighten him out.”
“I know that you were helping him get off drugs, but my fear as I’m sure I mentioned at the time was that rather than you pulling him up, he’d pull you down.”
“Hey, we didn’t know the car was stolen.”
“Oh yeah, Tipsy got me and Danielle arrested over the holidays.”


Getting a visit from an ex-student who informs me that another 16 year old former pupil is pregnant. Then, as we’re talking, she gets the text-message that the girl in question has miscarried.

You ever feel like your head is full of cotton wool that’s on fire?


“Ich bin Schnappi, das kleine krokodil.”
“No singing that song in class. Jeez, I tell you – the Germans: First World War One, then World War Two, now this song. That’s like three strikes and you’re out. I mean, I like to give people a couple of chances, but this is too much.”

I say one thing without thinking about it, and the entire class is reduced to paroxysms of laughter for a few minutes. Sure, they’re not the toughest audience, but having my own laugh track helps me pretend I‘m living in Welcome Back Kotter, which is one of my coping mechanisms.


One of my ex-pupils hanging about in my class with her three month old. One student or another expresses disbelief that my constant yelling isn’t phasing the kid, when Mum points out that he heard me a lot last year through her stomach...

Seriously; Cotton wool. On fire.


Kicking a Year 13 out of class. I’ve never had to do that before. Over and above the philosophical objections I have to that sort of thing, the Year 13s are always too mature to have to be dealt with in such a manner.

That having been said, she was about to hit someone with a chair, so I figured I could overcome my philosophical objections just this once. That sort of command decision is why they pay me the big money


“How were your holidays?”
“Really, really good, sir.”
“What’s his name?”
“What do you mean? Can’t I have a good holiday that doesn’t involve someone else? Why do you have to assume it’s about a boy?”
“Look, my time is valuable, are you going to tell me his name?”


A Year 13 doing Level I English for the third time, saying she wished I had been her teacher two years ago, because she would have passed. Because of the new University entry requirements, she might not have enough literacy credits by the end of this year. While she wants to go to Uni, her original plan was foregoing tertiary education in favour of “something, y’know”. She now tells me that she will consider coming back next year, but “only for English.”


Walking into a class which is out of control. I don’t like doing that if I can avoid it, but we have a new teacher. (We have a new teacher every two months or so at last count, and the kids take advantage of that to act like hellions.)

The new teacher is yelling and telling people off, and eventually asks me to intercede with the class.

I walk to the front of the room, and with a couple of hand gestures get all of them back in their seats and absolutely silent.

Sometimes I feel like a teacher, I tell you.


In the space of only a week, things have gone from zero to a hundred again. As ever, there is the very good and the very bad. All the stuff above, and every other little thing that couldn’t be reduced to an anecdote or decontextualized to a soundbite, so stays in my brain. But one thing stands out:

The year 11 kid who works hard for me. Made a couple of really silly mistakes and saw himself in front of the Board. His other teachers (on the assessment sheets we had to fill out on him) had given scathing comments, and he was on the track out.

He was shown the comments I made about him, and was told in no uncertain terms that it was my glowing appraisal and nothing else that convinced the Board to give him a second chance.

He told me this as he handed in a passing assignment.

We’re going to turn this one into a success. We’re going to win this one.

Doesn’t matter about the rest. That’s the victory this week.


Krimsonlake said...

So kids are still using chairs as weapons then.

If it helps I know a few of those 'problem children', circa 1993, who have turned out ok.

Apathy Jack said...

First time I've seen it from a Year 13, but I'm more than accustomed to the chair-grab-while-not-interrupting-monologue-to-the-class method of teaching dealing with the other levels...

Eric Olthwaite said...

Girls Bett in Every Subject,2106,3278712a11,00.html

English was particularly geared toward girls and many of the topics did not interest boys, she said.

"Analysing characters and having to think about why an author wrote what is often of no interest to boys."


Apathy Jack said...

Girls' brains grow faster, so at high school they're more mature and somewhat more intelligent than boys. QED they want to work more, and have a higher ability to do so.

The stats haven't become squewed for any deeply conspirartorial reason - it's only been in the last twenty years or so that girls have been going through the same educational system as boys.

Josh said...

Arna adds that as well as better maturity levels and attention spans, girls are (in her experience) much less averse to reading than boys, which has a big effect.

That, and the feminist agenda. Pesky feminists.

Tamora said...

Oh I fucking hate that damned Schnappi song and it's hundreds of retarded remixes. Be very very thankful you were not in a German speaking country when it came out.