The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Monday, June 20, 2005

Burdened with a one hour drama cover lesson (we don't buy in staff to cover teachers who are sick, we simply lose our marking and preparation periods to do it ourselves), and given the ludicrously inappropriate task of asking thirty one twelve year olds to spend an entire hour creating a scene from irreverent comedy show 'Little Britain', I watch seven little girls re-enact a classroom, featuring "yeah but no but" character Vicky Pollard.

I watch with interest to see how these girls represent a teacher faced with insouciant defiance and logicless destructive force.

Calmly. Quietly. Politely.

The girl playing teacher coolly repeats her instructions until the errant Vicky character complies. Refuses to raise her voice, to respond in kind, or to allow herself to be distracted by persistent attempts to raise the interaction to a level where violence could be induced.

Interesting. I wonder if this is learned, imagined or observed behaviour? If this is how these girls see their own teachers behave as they deal with four or five Vicky Pollards in each class?

An hour later, marking a far too easy exam in a prep room, I overhear through open windows on a muggy day - a head of year is dealing with a class of older students, a floor below. Screaming, yelling, ridiculing and bullying his students. Sarcasm, abruptness, interruptions and dissent are the order of the day.

I realise that perhaps - just perhaps - those girls were not copying, but modelling for us.

Some days, actions speak way, way, way louder than words.