It’s hard to keep sharp when there is so much that wants to blunt your blade.
I have taken to the notion that the pen is mightier than the sword, or that is at least just as sharp. Teaching blunts you. The daily routine of turning up, going to meetings, hearing the same things said about the same ideas and the same strategies for improvement of outcomes and behaviour, just wears one down.
It’s been a while since something has grabbed me by the philosophicals and dragged me around the playground. My reason d’être is no longer to become entangled within that wonderful web of wonder (learning and thinking), but rather to survive on a lesson by lesson, day by day, week by week basis. Could it be said that I am dead in the wool? Am I suffocated by the endless drone of my own voice, inoculated by the constant urgings for my charges to be quiet long enough to pick up even a morsel of something?
Last week, Tuesday, I was told that it was pointless to attempt to teach Year 8 as Stephen Hawking had predicted that the end of the universe would happen at 1.45 pm. It was five-past-one when I started the lesson and I took the chance of finishing it with a quick jaunt through the character of Miss Havisham for whom the clock had tocked many years earlier. I strangely became entwined in this rather disturbed spinster’s psyche and felt that my time was productive even though a number to the students were insistent upon the end getting nigher and nigher.
“Okay, it’s ten-to-the-hour now. I think we’re alright.”
“But it’s not ten-to in America.”
“But Hawking wasn’t an American.”
There are certain arguments and standpoints that a reasonably intelligent person can’t argue against. Proud ignorance and blatant disregard for the obvious truth are some of them.
The class that I have in mind are corralled by a number of individuals who believe that it is their right to argue the toss with anybody in authority. Being still a supply teacher, and not a proper one, I am an obvious choice which means that I battle each and every day over the most minuscule of instructions. I have to say things slowly over and over again for them to take any notice. It’s like trying to train a tribe of howler monkeys on a karaoke night out.
And yet, I am not properly affected by the howling belligerence of youth nor the seemingly pointless process that school has become. I am just here doing a job, keeping kids relatively occupied, letting their blunt attrition not wear away at my need for thinking.
Whatever I use for whetstones is still working….