Fourth lesson of the day, I was requested to sit in on a trainee teacher’s lesson. I sat writing and watching the dysfunctional matter that passes for youthful humanity in these parts.
One girl had been at the self-tan. For those of you who have not come across this product before, self-tan is a dye that is applied to the skin. It is supposed to render upon the wearer a deliciously golden shade of the Mediterranean. What it does is to turn the wearer orange. In doing so, it becomes an announcement to the world that the person who is now orange, a distinctly vivid orange, is wearing fake tan. Oh, and it leaves the wearers hands about four shades darker than anywhere else where it has been applied. Sort of like a, “Caught red-handed, but in orange.”
Anyway, the girl with the incredibly orange hands and orange-streaked skin, looked like her face had only just set about recovering from a flood of tears. With salty tides still apparent on her cheeks, she threw herself into the cradle of her cocked arms, collapsed on her desk, looking for the life of her that she was either ill or bereft, or both. Nobody else noticed.
It was one of those classes in which the kids don’t really listen. However, what the teacher wants and what the students want are strangely familiar. The teacher tells himself that what he wants to do is to teach the students something tangible; he wants learning to take place. What he really wants is to survive Period 4 of a Friday afternoon. He doesn’t want to shout. He doesn’t want to have to do battle. And he would rather not get too involved with the whole process of passing away the minutes. Likewise, the students have little interest in conflict. They wish to be left alone and not challenged. Their aim, like the teacher’s, is to get through the second to last lesson of the day without getting into too much trouble. With like minds such as this, what could possibly go wrong?
One lad, sitting directly in front of me is either sleeping or doing a very good impression of sleep. He is as close to sleep as any living thing that I have ever observed before. He knows I am there, but he doesn’t give a fig.
I once did this type of work. I was paid small fortunes to observe teachers and departments so that I could point out improvements. I did the coaching thing. Nowadays, coaching has been replaced with threatening. I can’t do threatening. I don’t really give a fig about a profession that has ceased to take itself serious; with a huge fistful of salt.
Poor student behaviour bores me. It is repetitive, moronic, and unoriginal. Indeed, it is the lowest form of life. Continuous low-level disruption frustrates me. It’s like swatting a mosquito in the dark. Kids answering back really boiled my sprouts.
Drumming has broken out on one table. The teacher circulates with a smile on his face; a fragile smile which could shatter at any minute. The orange girl has woken up and she no longer seems upset. Somebody has farted and are probably pleased with themselves. The creeping stench is just as effective as any other form of non-compliance.
Regardless of the unrelenting tide of moronic behaviour, the teacher does his best. By the end of the summer term, this teacher will have qualified as a professional and will probably be happy that that part of his life is done with.
And now the lesson is almost over. A boy on my right has launched into a string of unfunny one-liners. On the same table a girl has received her ultimate warning for not working. She too looks as if she has been sleeping. The teacher asks her if she has heard him.
“I heard you, but I don’t give a shit!”