The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Queen's Nose has directed me to discovery of a new method of distracting the surly, or refocussing the mentally misted. I show them my fifty pence piece that has a book and a library door on one side.

Children hold genuine fascination for things in a way that adults mostly seem to have left long in the shadows of their youth.

The first child I show, Jessica, grinned impishly, rubbed the relief pillars of the library against a grubby decorated thumb, commenting happily on how the leaves of the unfurling book look at first like a morning sun.

Of course, the naughtiest children try to grab it. Lawrence, sixteen, was most disgruntled that I had revealed it to Jessica, not him. He grabbed the fifty pence, and shoved it deep into his pocket without looking, a childish grin on his face as he waited to see what I may do.

Tired of Lawrence acting the three year old, I simply retaliated (I know. How infantile of me. It's end of term. I'm running out of options) by taking his pen.

He shrugged. So I took his essay too.

Jessica sighed heavily. "You don't know nothin', Miss Lectrice." She casually reached over and took his cola bottle.
Lawrence became highly agitated, jumping about in his seat, demanding the return of his precious fizzy sugar substitute.

It became a freakish re-enactment of Reservoir Dogs, in my mind.

Slowly, the three of us stretched out our contraband, ready to dodge hands back at the first sign of underhand impulses, hoping to swap treasures at exactly the same moment. I with my pens and essay, Lawrence with the library fifty pence piece, and Jessica with the pop bottle, a three pointed formation of distrust.

Changeover succeeds as Lawrence guzzles at his pop bottle, grunting for all the world like Lennie Small petting a dead mouse.
"You shoulda known what he would go for, Miss," smirks Jessica, pleased with her masterly arbitration skills.

Me and my asinine assumptions.

Another tangent: Colin Gregory Palmer's teaching practice continues to make addictive reading.
An excerpt:
Monkeys, Dogs and Intestinal Parasites

"No need to worry," said one of the religion teachers at my new placement school, 'Errol's Academy For Boys', "they're just a cross between monkeys and dogs. Monkeys because of their intelligence and ability to get into trouble but also dogs because of their reliance on the pack. Classroom management is quite simple really. All you need to do is kill the leader and you shouldn't have any problems."

This was typical of the encouraging advice teachers gave me about working in a boys school, but which had the opposite effect.