I’m sat in the office writing lesson plans for tommorrow (only one year twelve class today – HURRAY!) and I’ve just realised how many inspirational quotes, you know the sort of thing ‘Only those who are willing to go too far will ever know how far they can truly go’, that there are in here. You know when I was at school the teachers had them on the classroom walls I remember that Dr. Carr had the best one right above his blackboard (he took Chemistry) ‘When all else fails; read the instructions!’ But I’ve only just cottoned on to the fact that I don’t think they’re there to inspire the pupils, they’re in this office to make us teachers feel better. How do I know? Well I’m looking at the twenty or so….make that seventeen just counted! And there are ten on not giving up.
My observation yesterday went ok in that I passed it, however, I did not dazzle, in fact the whole lesson stank. It went completely caput but according to my tutor I did what I was supposed to in face of adversity. Dole out punishments and make them sit down and copy words from the board…again. I want to do these exciting things with lessons so that they aren’t boring but the pupils just will not let me. I have all these interesting ideas that even the ones who hate art could enjoy but they constantly make me do the deadly boring; copy from the board, work from this worksheet, I hate it, it isn’t teaching it’s marking time. Anyway, the lesson stank but the Jellicle met me from school and bought me tea and we sat on a bench like some OAP couple looking at the Lune. Ok it was nicer than it sounds, there were seagulls!
Sine I’ve been in school this morning the whole art department, (well except for The Second Mrs Tanqueray who’s only comment to me has been to ask me to show her how the computers work!) has told me how well I did with that class, that I’m fine, that I’m not to worry…now Winston Churchill is sat across from me saying ‘Never, never, never give up’ It’s beginning to feel a bit false to be honest, like they’re trying to hard. I mean if I was as good as they were saying a. why would I feel like shit about that lesson (and many others)? and b. why would they need to reassure me so much?
The Fluffy Cyclist’s attempt to reassure me was the funniest; ‘we’re holding on by the skin of our teeth’ (to disclipline in a classroom), ‘It’s not you it’s them’ (the pupils) and ‘they get worse every year’, meaning that the behaviour of the pupils gets worse every year and harder to control. ‘I couldn’t do my PGCE now’ she says…and yet she’s meant to be trying to encourage me to keep going with my PGCE and come into a teaching career. Come to think of it, seems like those words ought to have been coming from someone much older, loses it’s amusement value when you realise she’s only thirty and did her PGCE eight years ago. Surely you shouldn’t be that cynical yet?
Thomas Edison reckons ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up’
The cynicism worries me a bit.I mean, I really believe in education, not filling in boxes and ticking this or that in an ofsted inspectors report but in learning. Scary Phd in my first year told me that I was talking bollocks when I tried to explain that I thought people should want to learn. Her opinion was that education wasn’t about trying to get people to want to learn but it was about making sure people could tick the right boxes for prospective employers. Her opinion on wanting to learn was that that was what public libraries are there for. Maybe she’s right, maybe school is about marking time and the libraries should be left open for those people who actually care. Except I can’t quite believe that, I mean as far as so many teachers that I talk to seem to be concerned lesson plans are mainly about ticking off the objectives the government sets or trying to get the kids sat in one place long enough to put pencil to paper. But then theres WonderWoman, she’s the Head of our Department and she does actually seem to want the kids to want to learn or at least take an interest in their own education. She’s cynical but not about the same things as Fluffy Cyclist; she’s cynical about government initiatives and being able to do all the same things as she did eighteen years ago so long as she uses different language in her reports. And she does think that all the children at this school could become interested in their own education…but not whilst they’re being churned out in classes factory style.
She thinks we’re lifeboats, here to save as many as we can and she doesn’t just mean the ones who’ll go through the library doors or have internet access at home. According to the Cheery Cleaner she usually has to kick WonderWoman out so that she can lock up. Joseph B Wirthin, whoever he is, says ‘There is no defeat – except for those who give up’…well I’m still here, my lifeboat’s on offer and I’m hoping year eight don’t end up marking time tommorrow.