The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

By week three, a certain gallows humour sets in for both teachers and parents.

Bat Boy James tells me conspiratorially that his mum doesn't believe that he likes English this year. He'd told her he was good and his teacher thought so too. James asks "is it true, am I good? If my mum were to ring up now, right now, what would you tell her?"
"Well, James," I say, "you're really an expert on this book we're studying, what with the snail torture and all. And apart from the drama lesson where you threw yourself at the window, ran over the chairs screaming, and -"
"And had a fight with Levi, Miss."
"- and had that fight, yes, and threw a chair at Lennie - well, yes, James, I think that's the only time this year you've been bad."
"That was the lesson when I climbed up to the ceiling and jumped," he whispers, his eyes glowing at the memory.
"That's right. But look how good you're being now." James nods, pleased with himself, and with the attention he's getting.
"Because I told my mum that I'm good in English, and she just laughed and said 'oh yeah right', and she said she was going to see if I was lying. She said she was going to ring up today. Ring up now. Right now."
"Well, then, that's what she'll hear."

Back in a staffroom, I tell the boss about James' exploding snail experiment.
"James? I taught him last year. He's doped out of his brains an awful lot of the time, you know. He smokes a huge amount of dope."
With a weary smile, "yeah? Nowhere near enough, apparently."