Friday, November 11, 2005

Less than stellar moments in the field of education, from the last week or so...

Apathy Jack writes:

or: I get very tired around this time of year...


..

“Don’t you think it’s a hell of a coincidence that this review is almost word for word the same as the review written on the same book by your mate?”
“I’m not a cheater!”
“You’re a lying sack of crap, is what you are.”
“I’m not a sack of crap.”
“You’re fifty pounds of crap in a twenty-pound bag, and you cheated on your review.”

..

So, one of my juniors accidentally called me ‘Dad’ the other day. Happens occasionally. However, one of the boys hasn’t let her forget it – and is becoming quite tiresome with it: He made a big display of calling me over with “Dad! Come and help me, Dad.”

Normally I’d glare at him, or yell, or some such, but it’s been a very long term, and I’m tired, so as I walk over to him, I say, just loud enough for the whole class to hear: “I don’t know what you think I’ve been doing with your mother that would make me your father...”

Professional? Probably not, but, after the laughter and mockery had died down, this boy was quiet for the rest of the period.

..

Student 1 “What did we do in class yesterday?”
Student 2 “We had a Roman orgy.”
Me “Well, actually, that would have been a more interesting internal assessment than the rather dry research project I gave you to do.”
Student 2 “Wouldn’t that be a cool thing to appear on your report: Roman Orgy – six credits.”
Me “Yeah, but what if you got a Not Achieved?”
Student 2 “Ooh, that would hurt. Would there be a resit?”
Me “Yeah, but you’d have to rest for a while first, get your energy back up.”

..

“Here. Here. Here. Oops – Looks like I’m out of sheets. Hold on a second while I go and copy some more.”
“Why did you give him the last sheet instead of me?”
“He’s closer.”
“It’s because he’s white, isn’t it?”
“Yes.”

..

So, for a while now I’ve been lending my little goth sundry books of interest: Dracula, the odd Lovecraft anthology and the like. After she found my copy of Nightmares and Fairytales (my fault for leaving it in the comparatively public domain of inside a closed drawer), I started letting her borrow the various “goth friendly” comics I have lying around – Squee, Lenore, you know the ones. They’ve gone down a treat, and she’s been evangelising them to all of her friends, and even her parents.

Who have now put her in therapy because they’re worried about the things she’s reading.

I’ve managed to mess with students before – in fact, I do so on a hobbyist basis, but having one sent to the brain doctors is a new low in my professional career...

..

Oh, and I broke out the horse blinders again, which is never a sign that I’ve been sleeping well...

..

As I’m leaving school the other day, one of my Year 13s catches up with me and we walk together.

She’s in my Year 11 class: The first time she failed was her fault, but the second was a direct result of my school’s inability to retain good English teachers – which leads to a revolving door of people who can’t tell Shakespeare from Bacon. This kid thinks that I’m the reason she is finally succeeding in English. Despite my best efforts to convince her otherwise, she won’t believe that her passing grades are entirely due to intelligence and hard work on her part.

We walk together for a while, and our discussion turns to University. My girl is getting worried: School is over for her in a matter of weeks and she still hasn’t decided what she wants to do.

As it transpires, she simply doesn’t know anything about tertiary education. The subject of university isn’t discussed in her house any more than the subject of walking on the Moon – for much the same reason. We chat about eligibility, about working, about student loans, and the sundry little specifics of her high school career.

As we talk, a light comes on in her eyes. She tells me that she has it figured out: Not her whole life, but the next few years of it. Like I said – she’s intelligent. She thinks fast.

As we’re saying our goodbyes a few days later, she hugs me and tells me that she will be back: She has the next year or so figured out, but would like my opinion on her half-formed plans for life thereafter. A ten minute conversation and her uncertainty is lifted, a blueprint for the future sketched.

Some days it doesn’t matter how tired I am.


Oops. I let a positive “I like my job” post slip through.

I know some of you think these posts are boring, and many of you think I’m being sanctimonious. But here’s the thing: You’re right. As my friends will tell you, I am, by nature, a boring and sanctimonious person. Congratulations, you win the prize. The prize is not reading my posts anymore if they upset you that much. Because for as long as these sorts of moments make up for all of the bad, and talk me once again out of quitting teaching to find a nice quiet retail job somewhere, these posts will keep coming.

Sorry.

21 comments:

Xavier said...

Your posts aren't boring, AJ (God, those letters are too close to AJ Chesswas, he of misogynist agrarian christian fame). In fact, they kind of make me want to be a teacher

span said...

they teach Kevin Bacon in English these days? my how the world has changed.

HORansome said...

It's more that they teach the 'Seven Degrees of...' in English these days. From linking modern comedy routines to Aristophanes to showing how Joel Schumacher steals all his plots from Thomas Middleton the 'Seven Degrees of' dictum that Kevin Bacon inspired has made teaching more fun and less moribund for all.

Apathy Jack said...

X - You've certainly got the knowledge to become a a teacher. (Of course I've indoctrinated my students to hate the Sciences. Nothing personal, but when the eventual war between facultieis comes - and it will come - I want my lot loyal to me.)

Span - If I could get away with teaching the second best movie ever made, then believe me I would.

Josh said...

If the best isn't The Princess Bride, you and me are gonna have words...

Apathy Jack said...

I have taught the Princess Bride - it's not a bad text for the Year 9s.

However, the best movie ever is, of course, Preditor.

Anonymous said...

For someone who teaches English you really could do with a spellchecker...

Anonymous said...

well the argument about what is the best movie ever, is of course pointless...


It's obviously Eraserhead!

Watch that on the big screen with the sound of puppy dogs suckling their mothers nipples in the background, mutant babies and minature roasted chickens squeaking their thighs on the dinner table

it's a no contest.

Apathy Jack said...

"For someone who teaches English you really could do with a spellchecker..."

Spell checker is two words.

HORansome said...

'Spellchecker' or 'spell checker' are acceptable forms.

Anonymous said...

I am the same anonymous as above and I just wanted to say "moo wibble argh I am teh leet film fan-zor Eraserhead is teh clever blinkity ponk" and other unnecessary comments as I am a cunt. I tell people my fave film is "Eraserhead" in the hope they will think I am teh cool and have sexing with me. Achually the bestest film is Titanic. It makes me cry.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm Anonymous!

HORansome said...

No, I'm Anonymous!

The Hand of Morthos said...

I'm Brian Blessed!

Apathy Jack said...

You people are getting boring. No more commenting for you.

Anonymous said...

But we are very fulfilled in our work!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, educating you lot is hard work and sometimes I can't sleep at night, what with the nightmares and the screaming pains that crawl under my skin, but at the end of the day I have to admit that I love this job.

Josh said...

More of this shit and anonymous comments go bye-bye.

Actually, fuck it -- no more anonymous comments. If you don't have a Blogger account to comment with, sucks to be you.

HORansome said...

I think that's a shame, really. It was all getting rather funny.

Josh said...

Well it was, but now that the "I'm Spartacus" joke has been done, there doesn't seem any more point in words without names attached.

HORansome said...

See, I don't see that. A comment (well, a good one, where 'good' is either funny or informative) should stand on its own whether you have the context of the person putting it forward or not. Some might argue that criticism behind a veil (as some of our 'Anonymous' friends have been doing) is cowardice, being malign or so forth, but the 'Anonymous' tag has its use. It allows you to put forward a view without necessarily having to own or subscribe to it. It's the equivalent, in many cases, of the Devil's Advocate in the Blogsphere (hate that term); if you write something under your own name then people tend to think that you must believe or support it; if given the chance to voice the comment anonymously you can throw the idea out there without anyone having to contextualise it in re yourself.

My line of argumentation really doesn't apply to what's gone on in this thread but I do think that turning off 'Anonymous' commenting in general is a bad idea. As you are the creator/maintainer/guiding force of 'Brain Stab' I shall, of course, acquiese, but I do think this needs further debate.

Anyway, the post-Spartacus comments were funny too, mostly because of the presumed (on their part) non-humour of Jack in response to the Spartacus comments.