The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ahaaa, just remembered the joys of a ten hour day tomorrow - the 120 sixteen year olds I teach have a parents evening. It's approximately five months before they leave compulsory education forever, and the events of the evening generally follow a very predictable path.

In the two preceding years, when puberty first began to rear its aggressively disruptive head, most parents seem surprised that a teacher would have a bad word to speak of a child who may by all accounts still be able to maintain a facade of 'lovely' at home.
Or perhaps 'incensed' is a better word than surprised.
It's a rare parent these days who will transgress the evidence of their own experience and tackle their child over reported poor behaviour elsewhere.

But the final parents evening, a year on, when sixteenness has established its truculent, disgruntled hold over even the most placid child, becomes a radically y different narrative.
The evening becomes wave after wave of overtired, hollow eyed parents wailing.
"But he was lovely, and he's horrible and moody and evil no-o-o-w", often accompanied by bursting into humiliated tears at the sheer strain of dealing with a teenager so moody as to sit openly insulting their parent in front of me.

I calmly point out that once the exams roll around, my responsibility for this child ends, and try ineffectually to calm their rising panic at their slumped progeny's future.
And me smugly remembering that when I'd pointed out the hormones coursing in anti-social formations a year ago, they'd not believed a word of it.

Perhaps a whisky filled walking stick would improve matters.