The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Thursday, January 27, 2005

By request, an anecdote from my previous school, whose intake included a large number of recent arrivals to the country.

Families gain extra credit when applying for leave to remain if they have school-age students, so there can be somewhat of an age disparity in the classes you teach.
An apparently fourteen year old student shows you pictures of her white wedding last weekend.

A twelve year old writing his family biography assures you that yes, every uncle does work in the kebab shop, not a one of them works for wages, though.

A supposedly thirteen year old six foot boy (average height: four to five feet) who sports full beard and the physique of a boxer is sent out of class for acting immature.
You try not to question too harshly.

A public exam revision class for thirteen year olds includes this latter boy, Hasan. He's areputation for being easily bored, disinclined to do work, and a tendency to tell teachers to f*** off if challenged about this.

And the Head of Science, a dour, brittle, no - nonsense squat lady in her late forties has had enough of Hasan's intractibility, and silliness. She tolerates it as long as she can, till she lets rip with the retort "what are you doing here anyway? You're thirty six years old with a family of three kids, aren't you?"

Hasan storms out, furious. Science teacher is rather perturbed - un-PC comments like this are not well received by the borough who employ her.

"Ooh, miss," the other children say, "you shouldn't have said that. You've really upset him now. He's only thirty two."