Sunday, 25 November 2012

A School Vignette...part 1

The general consensus in the room, agreed more by atmosphere than by speech, was to keep it to ourselves.  Conversation eddied around the usual subject of the experiences of the day so far, the triumphs and failures and the inevitable savage humour of the tired teacher.
                “We were discussing the garden of Eden, and its role in literature,” someone started, as they settled into their chair in the manner of someone anticipating a reaction, “and the class, well, most of them, were OK with this and we had a reasonable discussion about the apple and so on,”
                “The apple? The type of fruit’s never specified,” said Eric as he was marking with his mauve pen.  Eric had this way of listening to discussions in stealth, then diving into the fray at strategic moments to bomb the hell out of whatever ignorance he had targeted. “I’ve always imagined it would have been a papaya, or maybe a pomegranate.”
“Symbolic,” muttered Jane.
“But not an apple,” Eric continued, “Not in the Middle East.” He rubbed his chin slowly, exploring the budding beard that had been sprouting there since Half-Term.
“Fair enough.”  The someone was Steve and he was not willing to let his tale get derailed by such pedantry.  “Anyway, then Carrie pipes up: ‘But Mr. Hedges, Eden and that didn’t happen though, did it?  It’s a myth,’ to which my only reasonable answer could be, indeed yes, Carrie – it is a religious belief and so didn’t necessarily happen.” He paused, and we stared at him, waiting for the punchline in the same way as you wait for the bus to work.  “And then Kathy says, just like her, ‘but isn’t everything to do with God true?’  Isn’t that just like her, a Year 11 thinking that?  Typical Kathy, primary school beliefs at 16.”  He chortled softly to himself.
“Poor Kathy, she has such a hard time at home,” Jane was unpeeling an apple, “but she doesn’t help herself at school either,” the apple was peeled, “and saying that kind of thing, well, what does she expect?  The kids laughed, I bet?”
“There you are.”  And thus was our psychological profile of Kathy.  It was amazing how we could deconstruct an entire human child and, intently studying the pieces, could come up with one of three stock answers every time.  It was home’s fault, it was school’s fault, or it was a mixture of the two.  This would be done in all of thirty seconds.  In a twenty minute break we could break down and analyse an entire class in this way, and we often did.
But it did keep us from discussing applications.

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