Fried Day…

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End of the week.

Grass still needs cutting, but my wilderness of a social life lit up with a few beers last night. As far as I am concerned, grass needs to grow.

Now, I am about to mount my trusty steed and cycle into my place of work (fully lycraed) and full of bon something or other in French, but I can’t think of that right now.

"I think maybe we've evolved TOO much - I"m having second thoughts."

 

 

You Need Balls For Target Setting…

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One of my many meaningless pastimes that run alongside my ‘teaching’ career is the throwing of paper balls. For this activity all that is required is a bin and a ball (rolled-up paper that is meant for the recycling. Oh, and you also need a classroom).

My activity follows a similar pattern: I mark or plan, I get bored marking or planning, I go into the recycling bin, fish out a piece of unwanted A4 and then screw it up into a rudimentary ball. It is important to spend a bit of time on this ball screwing business as a misshaped ball will not aid anyone. It’s all about aerodynamics.

Then it is time to take up position around the classroom. I personally like to stretch and challenge so place myself at the furthest extremities of the room. Just make sure that there are no blockages or impediments that may mitigate towards a completely unsuccessful attempt at the bin. On this point, be certain that the bin is sufficiently empty or the said ball will pop out just as quickly as it pops in. And, unless you are partial to table-enders, ensure that there are no offending desks in line with your potential flight-paths.

As Robert the Bruce was fond of saying, if at first, or third, or sixty-fifth you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try,,,,,,,,infinitum.  The law of averages must kick in at some point.

If you are like me, a tempter of fate, you will most likely try out your new obsession in front of a class.

To get the feel of the big arena, wander aimlessly about the room with a pre-screwed paper ball in your hand. Don’t make a show of it. Have the kids working on a quiet working task. As they are writing away, measure you aim. Have the odd shot without making it obvious that that is what you are doing. Look casual. Look relaxed. Appear unconcerned. You will miss. You may even miss all of your shots, but you will be getting valuable practice in without really trying.

Only when you feel that you are getting within range should you announce, in a jokey kind of way, that you are going for a bin-shot. If you miss, produce a mock-sports commentary that captures the drama of your failed attempt. Remember that your audience must believe that this a trivial fun event and nothing that you truly care about.

After three to four years, you will get to be quite good at this. And even if you don’t always hit or get near the bin, it is part of your training. Eventually you will be able to hit, or close-miss, the bin in front of even the most hostile of crowds. You will be able to lay down challenges to students and defeat them. You will have the right to run around them celebrating your superiority whilst mocking there failed attempts.

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Paper-ball Ninja Master Number 1… 

 

Does Grass Do That…?

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Far be it from me to personify, but I am getting a little fed-up of the gloating growing behaviour of my lawn.

The sun is out. Out of what I do not know, but it is.

It is warm. There are a few ephemera floating around. It’s like Woodstock before the Hippies realised that the Sixties were soon to be over. The foliage, as leaves and green stuff like to be known as, is getting thicker and richer in hue. The clouds are meandering by like aristocrats pondering the meaning of their fluffy existence. And the grass, the bloody grass, is growing at a rate of knots.

And the Missus has noticed it and given me warning, right across my mid-ship, that it will need cutting. 

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Piste-Off…

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Woden’s Day has arrived in all its Norse finery. There was a time when this day was worshipped just as much as Fry-Up Day when all of the sops and left-overs from the week’s cooking were thrown into a huge greasy vat of pig-shavings and fried until all the evil and goodness had been banished. Archaeologists believe that this is why people at that time live longer than their fellow Earth-dwellers (twenty-one average years as opposed to seventeen rather less than average).

Recently, a giant Viking turd has been uncovered in York and it is believed that this is again evidence of a very advanced culture whose dietary habits and tastes match the very best of own own.

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Turds to one side. Woden’s Day is the centre of the work week which means that those of us on the hamster-wheel of life can look up, look back, and look ahead to the two slim days of relaxation after Fry-Up Day.

In my most shallow wisdom, I decided to name this day, The Top Of The Piste Day as I believed that all of us hamsters had spent Moon Day and Shoes Day climbing up that great edifice of the mountain face and now at Giant Turd’s Day we are ready to launch ourselves down the slippery slope and into the weekend. This is where we get Furs Day from as it is what is required on that cold mountain-top whereas Sitting day is what we do after a good pig-oil fry-up.

Unfortunately, Soon Day reminds of of our trials to come. 

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Bark at the Moon all day after that… 

Tuesday Down…

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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.

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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.   

W T F …

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Tuesdays have never been my favourite since the days when it always seemed that I had dental appointment at this particular time of the week.

The dentists in those days were unredeemed psychopaths who enjoyed administering pain to the achingly unsuspecting. Making school children do the backwards-crab as they tried to climb out of the swivel-chair of sensory torments was probably an added bonus.

So, no matter how much closer we have got to the inconsequential weekend, I still do not like a Tuesday.

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But at least this asteroid narrowly missed us on Sunday…

Restorative…

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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.

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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?