The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Monday, January 31, 2005

Monday, final period. A class of eight sixteen year olds. Remedial. There should be three support teachers, but they've left or retired and we can't find anyone to replace them yet.

Lawrence is dancing from chair to chair, his elbows held tightly against his body, hands splayed and flapping oddly, as he hops and skips like an overgrown extra in the dance of the sugar-plum fairy. Having a whale of a time, he caps his excitement by diving under the table to hide between dance routines. I'm not sure what has created such jollity, but the Maccy D milkshake smuggled into the room with two shrivelled cold cheeseburgers may well be under that table with him.

Wes has come in late, and decided that today, any interaction or question will be greeted by a loud aria.
Once he's started, he sings to the end. We shall simply have to wait if we want to say anything; wait till the song is done.

It isn't the same song that Lawrence appears to be dancing to.

Behind all the inanities and chatter, I iterate easily digestible soundbites on American inequality, on Caribbean immigration, on manifestations of dislocation for any migrant community.

Hyen is playing with her computer, Jessica and Rick flirt quietly, their pens at rest.
Jose has taken a break from his usual routine (one of wandering about to release a flatulent request for attention from any pretty girl), and is trying to do some real work in-between bouts of paper pellet throwing and sneaky sips of orange fizz.
James is silent, well-behaved. Soon, Nat and Matt will turn up thirty minutes late from the fast food outlet down the road, and distract him.

As Wes's aria culminates, he looks down to his worksheet, adds a diligent line or two on poetic expressions of identity. Finishes his worksheet. Lawrence scuttles backwards from the secret burger stash beneath and pirouettes crazily towards the projector.

I'm trying to deliver a lesson on cultural dissonance.

I wonder, as I speak, how I'd describe this: my own simultaneous paradigm shift; how I'd tell it, on this blog.