The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The school participated in the European three minutes' silence to pay respect to the victims of the Boxing Day tsunami.
One twelve year old at the school has lost his entire extended family back in Sri Lanka to the great wave, and was brave enough to give an assembly to all 350 children in his year about how that felt.

It was a spectral thing to go from the noise and randommess of life in an inner city performing arts school, morph into the the calming down of the countdown to twelve noon, the reverberating and suddenly subdued tannoy announcement at noon, to the echo and emptiness of the silence.
I opened the classroom door, and we listened to the quietness enter the room.

Two boys in my class of twelve year olds were tempted to snigger - one look quelled the impulse. Unlike the picture presented (by the media) of the adult world, there were no questions or impediments to the silence. No political wrangling over whether it's a secular form of prayer.
We didn't speak about it. We just looked down and thought.

The students are divided on how else to respond. The British public have raised £90million in private donations so far, and there have been daily collections.

The student body wants a 'mufti' day (a non-uniform day) to raise money, though the head disagrees, citing a confusion of principles that cover her real reason - intruders - in her defence.

Speaking to my form of sixteen year olds, they favoured a pay-tournament of football, pitting year against year, with gambling options laid on for students who don't play (Nathaniel: What? Miss? But there's nobody who doesn't play football?!!).
The eleven year olds want every child at the school to send a postcard to Indonesian children. And the chance to pay to throw wet sponges at their head of year. (My form opined it would be worth more money if they could throw bricks.)

The team of sixteen year old prefects will sift the options and decide. Debate continues.