Men in their late fifties often make bad decisions.
So, with the world of decision-making behind me, I stood in front a group of young learners. I walked into the classroom and was met with the same kind of noise I would have expected a Christian to hear as he was thrown into the circus of Rome.
I shrugged as a way to show my indifference and let the head of the maths department issue directions and empty threats.
“If you need anything, I’m in the next classroom.”
I thought of lion repellant, but said nothing.
Once he had left the room, I handed out the worksheets. Maths exists on a mountain of the things. On the computer screen was a video of some faceless hand leading a faceless class through the method required to complete factorising quadratic equations. I played it to a chorus of moans and groans. All these little factorisers wanted to do was to chat with their friends. All the little factorisers ever want to do was to chat to their friends. I gained some quiet before telling myself that it was fairly futile. I wandered the room.
One pointy-face equation asked me if I had missed him. I told him that I had, but only because the steering on my car was faulty. The pointy-face equation had a knack of talking. I walked away and perused other more likeable tables. For some very obvious reason, my little factorisers had decided that they had won. I agreed, I just hoped that they enjoyed the victory.
The behaviour that I had fought so hard to quell within my English lessons was less pronounced here. Perhaps my decision not to address it was important. A good half of the group chose to chat throughout the period. It wasn’t bad – it was incessant, but for me, it was merely background noise; the noise of their lives.
I can see it now. I can see how very strange my expectations must have appeared. I had insisted on quiet. In today’s world, the only quiet that many experience is when they are asleep. I was the one out of step with their world. I was to be suspected and feared. I was the dinosaur from myth. I was legend.
I sat there, an old adversary finally meeting his Waterloo, and waited for the lesson to end. It had gone surprisingly well. I had taught very little, imposed no restrictions, but had survived to fight another day (or lion or lesson).
My next assignment was covering a Year 7 group for physical education, PE.
In this new world, I need not bother about making any decisions.
I quite liked it.