"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Out with Yr 7 ctd ....
(Chardonnay as we've never seen her before>)
So, Devinder, Student Teacher Khadija, twenty 11 year olds and I set off at lunch time for the delights of down-town Huddersfield in a small coach.
Are we nearly there yet?
We're still in the school's car park.
What'll we do when we get there?
I'm not entirely sure about this as Devinder has done all the organising. I understand from her that there will be displays about different religions put up by other local High Schools in a sort of market-place. I am hoping there is ethnic food. I explain this to Karl.
Couldn't we do something interesting?
I resist the temptation to slug him one and, instead, give him a lecture in low hissing tones about how Mrs Singh has worked really hard to put the afternoon together and he's going to enjoy himself and show her appreciation whether he wants to or not.
He looks doubtful.
At the same time I am wondering which of the little scamps has had the lack of forethought to bring egg sandwiches on a coach. It turns out to be Nkwame and the school-provided packed lunch: the Dinner Lady's revenge!
The journey is mercifully short - and we've not even had any community singing. I am already in a semi-comatose state as a result of Karl's mistaken belief that I might be even remotely interested in his anorak-interest in local shops.
You see that street there Sir? There on the left.
Oh, now you've missed it. You weren't looking Sir. There's a bed shop down there on the right.
Don't worry, there's an undertakers coming up down a right turn soon. I'll point it out to you.
Take me now Lord.
At our destination we disembark and line up in pairs. Ten black-blazered pairs of little rascals scrubbed up for an afternoon as ambassadors for the Knowledge College. Karl tries to push Khadija out of the way to be paired with me but his hand is grabbed - rather too enthusiastically I feel, by Kara who gives him a soppy smile. Khadija throws me a glance that says so much and, smirking, we bring up the rear with the redoubtable Mrs. Singh in the vanguard.
The displays are really very good and show how thoughtful local kids of all ethnicities and religions have worked really hard to engage younger children's imaginations about the out-working of the spiritual in the daily lives of ordinary folk. There are quizzes, a treasure trail, a community garden, opportunities for artistic expression and dressing up - Chardonnay and the Burkha will long remain in my memory together with Nathan in a priest's alb and stole.
Khadija is mobbed by a group of girls from her previous teaching placement.
Miss! Why did you leave us?
Braden takes two turns around the hall and asks Khadija when the coach will be back. I spend much of the rest of the afternoon turning him out of the toilets.
But I'm busting Sir. I need to go quick.
Firstly, it's BURSTING, secondly it's QUICKLEY - LY, adverb - and, thirdly, NO ONE OF YOUR AGE NEEDS TO SPEND THAT MUCH TIME IN A TOILET IF THEY'RE HEALTHY!
God, you can't do anything!
Some of the other young people provide music with a religious theme. It is mainly gospel based or well known Christian choruses and the array of talent is impressive. Two young Asian boys get up on the stage to sing, sadly rather tunelessly I felt, a musical representation of the Adhan - the Muslim call to prayer. I head Braden off at the door.
Sit down now and show some respect.
But it's rubbish.
Well, I have to say there are certain similarities with the infamous Portugese entry in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, which, even though it came last I still hum in moments of high stress, but that's not really the point.
I take Braden outside the hall.
Well, they don't learn our religion.
Oh, and which religion would that be exactly Braden? (Through gritted teeth.)
I repeat the question.
You know, ours.
I know mine. I'm not sure about yours Braden.
You know. Church and all that.
You go to church Braden?
Duh! 'Course not.
So what religion is that then?
My Dad says ...
I'm not interested in what your Dad (or the Daily Star) has to say. Listen to me and listen carefully: ALL our students follow the same broad courses of study. If you think our Muslim pupils don't study Christianity at some stage you're very much mistaken. Now get in there, sit down and clap enthusiastically when those lads have finished or I'll tell the compare that you - yes you Braden, want to stand up on the stage and sing a hymn from your religious tradition. Do I make myself clear?
Braden looks stricken but can be seen later leading the applause. No doubt he is another student I have emotionally scarred for life.
The return journey is a mirror image of the outward journey only with pepsi sprayed liberally down the now less than pristine white shirts of some of the boys.
Sir. Sir. You see that road there? There's a shop there sells bathroom fittings.
What is the penalty for infanticide?