"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
Friday, November 4, 2011
Socialising Teenagers: Is It Worth The Effort?
Ah, Friday of week 2: four periods out of five to teach - three year 9 lessons in a row on science and religion and a year 11 class on religion and prejudice.
My first observation is how different the three Yr 9 classes are. One is very focussed and hard working and, I must admit, a tad dull. The second has three key kids missing including the boy who is incredibly enthusistic and well read in scientific terms and also incredibly untidy (a boffin?) and the third has a group of formidable girls. Asma is possibly bonkers and the polar opposite of the general stereotype of an Asian girl. She is loud, earthy and all the boys are frightened of her. Lauren is like Lauren off the Telly. She doesn't know when to shut up, she's argumentative and has yet to learn that putting your hand up doesn't of itself entitle you to launch straight in to your pet conspiracy theory about aliens and God.
"No but, Sir ..."
No Lauren it's someone else's turn to talk now. (Possibly even mine, who knows?)
"No, but I've not finished talking."
But I have finished listening. It's someone else's turn now.
"No, but right Sir, If God came from another galaxy, right......"
Lalalalalalalala I can't hear you.
And then there's Deanna. Deanna's life is full of dramatic gestures and big sighs. She is a misunderstood child. She's also not used to hearing the word "no". I doubt she's ever been denied anything in her life. Everything Deanna does is a three act drama. Today she decided that her desk was wobbly. She turned folding a piece of paper to poke under the table leg into an art form which transfixed us all with her gymnastic dexterity. She is also prone to giggling.
I could slap her.
We talk of Fr. George Lemaitre, the Belgian Priest who formulated the Big Bang theory. We have previously looked at half a dozen key scientists starting with Copernicus and ending with Bell-Burnell who were Christians and I am (foolishly) at the point of congratulating myself on having conveyed the message that religion and science are not mutually exclusive.
"But that's wrong Sir. You can't be religious and believe in science."
Yes you can.
"No. Science has disproved religion."
No it hasn't.
"But lots of Christians don't believe in gravity."
"I saw this T-shirt with a woman on it arguing about gorillas and God.
I think you might mean evolution.
"No it was definately gravity. You know, Doreen."
Do you mean Darwin?
"Yeah, that's the one."
Interesting take on evolution but anyway, that's America. It doesn't count.
Look. When you hear "American" and "Christian" in the same sentence you should also hear warning bells.
No. It's an observation. Trust me, its another world.
During my free period Mrs. Singh pops in from next door. She teaches Sociology and kindly agreed to teach some R.S. She rues the day. She has been bending my ear about this class all term. I've transferred one kid into my group and had another who she sent out sat at the back yesterday.
We are seven minutes into the lesson.
"These boys were late to the lesson and don't have an excuse." She gestures to a boy outside the room who shambles in. He is followed by another. And another. And another. In all there are six of them. She departs to teach her class.
Why were you late? I ask the first.
"I thought it was Maths so I went there."
Oh, an easy mistake. After all, its not as if you always have R.S. week two, Friday period three. Oh! Yes it is. I work through the group. We have one lost wallet and a friend helping him find it. Why does it take two of you?
"Well, he knew where it was."
So why didn't he pick it up and bring it to you?
At this point the boy in my own class is trying to hide behind the others. This doesn't work what with him being six inches taller.
"I needed to go to the toilet."
That's what break's for. In your own time, not Mrs. Singh's
They return to Mrs. Singh. I have no confidence that they are sufficiently chastened. I return to the office and had no sooner plugged in the kettle than Mrs. Singh is back with another boy.
"He tore up a book ..."
"Then he denied it ...."
" ... didn't."
"Then he swore ......."
"I only said "fuck this". It wasn't at her."
He stays in my room for the rest of the lesson.
I return to the office and ring the pensions people.
When exactly can I retire?