I was planning to write something about balls of paper.
I have never before worked in a school that uses so much paper. The teachers are forever recycling the stuff whilst the kids are always screwing it up and throwing it in the bin.
Now, I am not a tree-hugger but I do like paper. I like it to write on and I like it when it holds fine words or images. Paper and me go back a long way. So it is with true sadness that I see a veritable paper mountain being demolished each and every day at my latest institutional establishment. No sooner have I given out some A4 for students to mind- map with than a unhealthy number of them are screwing it up; tearing it up in some circumstances. It makes my heart bleed and my blood boil.
I get annoyed.
“Why are you screwing the paper up?”
“I went wrong.”
“Yes, a tiny little bit wrong, but why screw it up?”
“Because it is wrong. It is useless now.”
At these times I am thankful that I was never born as a piece of paper.
If I find it hard to forgive the screwing up of pieces of paper on which students have ‘gone wrong’ imagine how I feel when they do a fortnightly cull of all those handouts that they now deem to be obsolete. They just pull them out of their books and trash them.
“Why,” I ask in vein.
“Cause we don’t need them any more. We already did that.”
My, “Yes, but…” falls on deaf ears.
They belong to the generation that only prizes the up-to-date, the new, the relevant.
All else, including the Magna Carta, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the first Saint James Bible are just so much junk that is taking up space, clutter that needs to be uncluttered.
Last lesson of the day and, up until then, everything had been going okay. Nothing perfect, but then what is?
So, in trundles my class. They are a bright class with one or two individuals standing out as very bright and hardworking. Unfortunately, some of the group believe in people-power; their power against mine.
I have no power. I am merely a supply and that is a lower order of the lowest caste known to educational institutes. Regardless of that, I am a good teacher. I am a good teacher. I am a good teacher. I keep saying this not to reassure myself, but as a way of invoking a powerful spell that will act as a magical cloak of protection. More than anything else, I am a decent human-being who treats everyone equally, unless they impress me deeply and I have a little more time for them. As I said, I am a human-being after all.
As one little group in my class turned up some seven minutes late after making plain their determination to try to undermine me, I did the teacher thing and moved this tiny group of rebels into different classrooms to work. In the meantime, I got along with the business of teaching the rest, the ones who did not wish for my appearance in the circus of life and death as a rather lively aperitif for the lions and tigers.
At the end of the lesson, a pastoral lead asked if I could spare a few minutes with her and the miscreants in order to bring about a restorative resolution. I agreed, but had little faith in a equitable outcome.
What followed were two minutes of me saying what I expected and three minutes of the two girls saying what was wrong with me. They apparently worked better when they were talking and were not forced to listen to the teacher trying to teach.
What has happened to me as a teacher? What has happened to teaching? Why have I turned all authoritarian in the way that I expect teaching and learning to progress?
But even now, even in this more advanced world, it isn’t.
I remember that whilst I was at sixth-form some politician wrote a book on the effect that the new technological world would have upon ordinary human beings and their work/play patterns. His thesis was that the new-intelligence would free us up, give us more time off. According to his supposition, by now most of us ought not to be working more than two days a week.
It made perfect sense. That was almost forty years ago. What went wrong.
Just who has been running the show?
As more and more people seek the exit door of divorce to solve their marital disappointments, it seems that they are able to hold all the advantages. People have stopped getting old. Fifty is the new thirty and sixty is as well if one so desires. An awful lot of those not-so-oldies have more disposable income. They have realised hidden capital from previous assets like houses. Kids have grown up, sprouted wings and flown the nest. All in all, it sounds like a win-win situation. So, why do we know so many older singles who are desperately seeking someone?
Rebecca is a middle-aged woman who is recently divorced. She and her husband were married for 25 years when he told her he wanted a divorcebecause he is in love with someone else. For the past few years, Rebecca was unhappy in her marriage, but she never thought that they would divorce. She became accustomed to her life and it’s routine. Rebecca had no idea that her husband was cheating on her and so his revelation came as a total surprise.
She is now living alone and wondering what will become of her life. Her family and friends are there for her, with her married children living close by. Rebecca continues to work part-time at the same job she’s held for seven years. Financially, she is okay, but not as monetarily “comfortable” as when she was married.
Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D.
My wife and I have been married for almost twenty-one years and we have been married to each other all of that time. It’s not always been plain-sailing. My mental health issues have sometimes made life very difficult for the both of us. There were point when we could have given up. I always tell her that she could still get a very good-looking and financially endowed partner, but she tells me to stop talking such nonsense. The bottom line is that we have stuck together and hopefully will continue to do so.
Some of our friends have not done the same. They have taken the exit door when the whole performance became a little too much or too little. Unfortunately the next big act seems to refuse to appear.
Two of our divorcee friends have spent the time since their previous relationship trying to discover the one that is meant for them. It ought to be easy in this world of instant digital-dating. Indeed, the act of getting a date does not appear to be the difficult part. What is difficult is finding another fish in the sea that has not been damaged over-harvesting or just constantly harbouring the need to be wanted for any time between five minutes and an hour.
Sex is easy, but talking to the other person before, during and after the main event seems beyond many. The end result is a whole tranche of middle-aged singletons who are going to spend the rest of their lives living alone, but with the addition of occasional sex.
Another friend of mine (male) has accepted that his lot is to satisfy his own libido and the libido of other transient sexual encounters. He doesn’t desperately go searching for anything other than the instant gratification of skin on skin.
He seems to be happy enough…
Memorise your favorite poem.
Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.
Never laugh at anyone’s dreams.
Love deeply and passionately. …You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.
Talk slow but think quick.
When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ….”Why do you want to know?”.
Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Spend some time alone.
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, …..You’ll get to enjoy it a second time.
We are born, we die.
In between is what we do.
I have always been warned that I have a trusting nature. Indeed, it is the type of nature whose trusting naivety gets me into trouble. I have always tried to see the best in others until I hit the brick wall that was my life’s full-stop.
After the brick wall, I had a different take on people. I shied away from them. I was a reverse-leper who wanted only to be quarantined against the possible damage that people could inflict.
During this time, I lost my job, my confidence, and my trust (I didn’t actually lose my job, I lost it and it never found me again).
Have faith in, place one’s trust in, have confidence in, believe in, pin one’s faith to, pin one’s hopes on.
Now that is the type of trust that I am thinking about. I have no faith. I have nothing that I place trust in or put trust on. I have little confidence in nor belief in, nor do I pin my faith on. I no longer put my hopes on anything.
In short, I am short of that strange little thing called TRUST. And, as you can see, trust is a BIG word. And without that BIG word, things don’t seem to happen.
When the day arrived on which my life stopped, everything came to a halt.
Trust was the fuel on which it all ran.
I have just purchased three new invisibility cloaks to aid my teaching. I just thought that I could move around the classroom and get a low-down on how well the kids were working.
The problem is that I put them in the wardrobe and now…