The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Friday, March 04, 2005

Groundhog Day, South East London.

I've smashed my watch, and have to rely on the classroom clock for the precision timing that teaching involves. Except we've moved to a computer suite, and the clock's in an unfamiliar place.

After what seems like an age, I notice the time: 9.47am. Three minutes to the end of the lesson! Crikey! We've barely started; nobody's moved onto formatting their work the way I wanted, let alone inserting and manipulating images.

I start berating the eleven year olds panickily.
Save your work! Print one copy! Don't send it through more than once! (this line's crucial; it means they'll only send a print instruction fourteen times, instead of the usual thousand)

Shut your machine down! You, boy, what in god's teeth do you mean by coming in this late to a lesson: get out and keep out of my sight till you have a decent excuse!

Get those chairs tucked under the desks! Pack your things up, what is this, a zoo? Why are we not silent, heels together, arms folded, chins up?
And so on and so on. Army sergeant delivery, cursing my own ineptitude.

Until Hayley - rather sarcastically, I think - points out the clock has frozen for two months in that position: it's 9.15.
Oh. Ah. Sorry.

Back to the typing! Hurry up! Log in! Come on, come ornnnnnnn! Get the right program up! Why are you printing? Are you mad? Are we made of paper? Do you think it grows on trees?

You, boy, what are you doing outside the door? Nonsense, it's no crying matter - you silly boy! Get in here! Faster, boy!
& c. & c. & c.

I ask Joanne why she hasn't started. Does she not realise we only have one single lesson in here?
Joanne sighs heavily, casually lifts her arm to wallop Jamie (hard at work on his own piece) and hisses: "hurry up, you muppet! We only have one lesson!" before turning back to stare idle and inert at her own blank screen.

Gradually, I realise I haven't paid attention to the time for quite a while. A shock awaits in the lower right hand corner of Michael's screen.
Bloody hell! 9.47! This can't be right.

I check Tony's terminal: 9.47.

And Jack's: still 9.47.
And still I don't really trust it.
"Listen kids, either I'm mad, or the room is accursed, or it's 9.47. Get a move on, will you?"
And I wonder why Joanne isn't organised?