Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Right, you fucks are on your own until the New Year I think. Couple of things before I go...

School finished with less of the traditional running around getting last minute things done, and more using the New School’s broadband to stream Def Poetry, which is work, because I’m an English teacher.

Hoodrat, on the other hand...

Well, let’s see... There are five English teachers at the school – four of them left effective last week. Out of four Social Science teachers, three of them have left. One of the two Art teachers is gone, as is one of the two full-time Computer teachers. Two of the four Drama/Dance teachers have left, and one is cutting back to two classes a week. The Head of Science is taking a year off, and those do have a tendency to turn into resignations after the fact. Maybe it won’t... I’m not sure about Maths; I’ve heard rumours that a couple of them have sought employment elsewhere, but that their general crapness has prevented this from becoming a reality.

Now, if the Principal of Hoodrat was a real human being and not some kind of cartoon character, he would look at all of this, and ask himself what he’d done. This has not happened. He has, however, spent a lot of time berating departing staff members and asking them “What have you done?” (Disclaimer: Not me. I put a two-line resignation letter into his pigeon-hole on my way out the door one evening, and responding in passive-aggressive kind, the boss refused to discuss my departure, not even announcing it to the staff... But several others have received the “I’m very disappointed in you.” speech from the same man who undermined them at every turn and refused to support them in their attempts to actually teach the Hoodrat children something.)

A fortnight ago, I went to the Graduation Dinner for the Hoodrat Year 13s. I won’t even try to convey the emotion – I just don’t have the words. I will mention the ego-stroking point that the Head Girl thanked me specifically in her speech; a point that’s doubly flattering because she didn’t know I was coming to the dinner when she wrote it – she just wanted to acknowledge me to the staff and students, whether I’d hear it or not. I have mostly pruned myself of the guilt over leaving, but I know how many of my Year 13s left the Classics exam early – all of them – and I know I did them wrong.

Anyhoo, to change tack slightly...

I like Frankie Boyle’s description of comedians as “semi-autistic”, because it describes me as well...

“[W]e go out and sort of make people laugh and then pretty much go home and curl up in a ball in a cold shower and have two hours of crippling self-doubt.”

I never sit back and think “Yeah, I’m alright at this whole teaching lark...” I pendulum wildly (sometimes several times in the course of a day) between believing my own press – thus loudly proclaiming myself a Golden God of teaching – and panicking that people will see through the flimsy reputation I’ve built and realise what a complete fraud I am.

That having been said...

I threw my toys and left Hoodrat in too much of a hurry to properly investigate the place I was applying to. My tragicomic interview at the New School went a little like this:

“So why do you want to teach at a Catholic school?”
“A what school now?”
“This is a Catholic school.”
“Really? That explains all the pictures of Jesus. I just though somebody was doing a thing...”
“And do you think it will be a big change teaching only girls?”
“Why wouldn’t I be teaching the boys?”
“This is a girls’ school.”
“The hell you say...”
“We’re impressed with you. Would you like to be assistant HOD?”
“What? No! Leave me alone!”

A few months later, the Creator went for an interview for a baseline English teaching job somewhere else...

“So why do you want to move from a decile three, secular, co-educational school to a decile ten Catholic girls’ school?”
“I drew a circle on a map indicating how far I’m willing to drive in the mornings. Every school in that circle has my CV. Oh, and just before you ask, I know that taking extra-curricular activities is a condition of the job, but I don’t do that, so don’t waste either of our time by asking.”
“We’re impressed with you. Would you like to be assistant HOD?”
“Yes. Yes I would.”

When that school’s HOD left soon thereafter, the Principal made it clear that the Creator would be heavily involved in picking the replacement.

Then I got my New School to headhunt the Preserver to fill that assistant HOD job we still had going.

I’ve known for a while that it’s good to be king, but you know, it’s also good to be kingmaker.

Teaching at Hoodrat is like being bitten by a radioactive spider, or hit by a gamma bomb or something: fairly unenviable at the time, but it turns you a fucking superhero. The three of us: striding South Auckland like gods, backlit by haloes as we save the education system from itself.

But that’s just me believing my own press again. Hell, I’ve been treating the latter part of this year as a holiday, and only using about thirty-percent of my brain and energy, so I really shouldn’t get that impressed with myself...

To end, a reminder to the other Brain Stab people that our three-year anniversary is on Friday, so one of you write something pithy, and a poem called Southern Heritage, which appeals to my love of all things redneck, and to my love of rage.

Have a good Christmas, you weirdos.

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