"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)

"And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6.8

"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

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out with Yr 7

Today is the day Devinder and I take our Year 7s out on a trip. It is not a big event, merely a trip to Huddersfield to a religious market place set up by other local schools. Ours don't have very wide horizons. Huddersfield might as well be Las Vegas.

I am very fond of Yr 7 - well, not Braden obviously. They are very funny and unselfconsciously 11.

I arrive at school at 7.20. My colleague Andy arrives shortly after.

I'm sorry. I can't hear a thing.

I look at my friend.

You have cotton wool in both ears.


You have cotton wool in both ears.

He looks startled and removes the cotton wool.

That's better.

We carry on as if nothing had happened.

I wander to the office and come upon two year 7 girls. What on earth are they doing in so early?

I'm dead excited sir. I've eaten my packed lunch.

Oh really Chelsea? What did that include?

Chelsea gives me the run down on her early lunch: cheese sandwhich with cherry tomatoes, an apple and two chocolate yoghurts. (They're the only sort I can have.) I was so close to asking why but I have learned it's best not to. I wish I had.

I'm so excited some wee came out.

Really Toni? Again I don't ask more. It really pays not to.

We aren't going until 12.15.

Sir, Sir, Nkwame's forgotten his packed lunch.

Nkwame is entitled to free school meals and I throw myself on the mercy of our catering supervisor who is, one feels, a saint as she rustles him up a nourishing little offering in a discrete bag to save embarrassment.

Morning staff briefing is usually a fairly turgid affair with countless announcements and notices that largely don't apply to me and so go in one ear and out the other. Today I arrive in the staff room early to discover one of our student teachers with a Heath-Robinson contraption she had put together for her science lesson. It consists of welded pipes and valves, compressed air and a rocket. We spend several happy minutes firing the rocket at various members of the English department who congregate in the opposite corner of the staff room. She declines my bribe of a fast-track pass on her teaching practice if she "accidently" fires the rocket at the Head during notices.

No backbone, these young teachers.

How inconvenient teaching is. It really get's in the way of enjoying school I find. I have an uneventful Yr 10 lesson where they are revising work for their forthcoming exam. I am gratified that they actually seem to know things. Yr 11, also on the threshold of exams, are less encouraging. You may remember Jolene. I showed the class the iconic photo of the Vietnamese girl running down the street, naked and screaming.

Is she Chinese then?

No she's Vietnamese.

Isn't that Chinese, then?

No It's Vietnamese. That's why I said it.

Where's that then? (Others in the class are getting restless. There are a few rolling eyes. This is going to be another Joleneism. She is noted for them.) One of the other girls tries to rescue her by explaining the concept of South-East Asia. She takes umbridge.

Well, how was I to know?

Vietnam, Jolene.

Vietnaan. Is that an Indian bread? Does it come with garlic?

No. It's a country.

Is it in India?


Why not? It should be if they eat that sort of food.

There is a stunned silence and then the others erupt with hoots of derision. Jolene does not bow to hoots of derision and she regally lets it all wash over her (empty) head.

I relate this to a senior colleague later.

It was a blond moment.

But she's not blonde.

Oh my God. I'm surrounded by them.

To be continued.

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