"Happy Christmas Sir!" Big Dave makes a point of this greeting every time he passes me on the corridor. He has now taken to posting Christmas greetings daily on my Facebook page, but, as he's not called Big Dave for nothing, I have graciously and magnanimously decided to allow him to live for another year.
That's the spirit of Advent! I'm entirely sure that is what John the Baptist would have done.
Anyway it has been a mixed week at the knowledge College: on Friday as I was coming down the stairs from my classroom, I heard the sound of Maths Karl's door being unlocked. Approaching his door with a cheery "Good Morning Knob-Head", I was somewhat surprised when the dulcet tones of one of our Deputy Head teachers replied, "Good Morning Sir." from within.
No post-Advent card from that direction this year methinks.
My 11 year olds have come up trumps, though. We have been looking at religious festivals and the R.S. Department has been commandeering the display cabinets in the foyer to display our pupils' work. Poppy did a particularly good display on Eid and it was my turn to do both Hanukkah and Christmas. Now the problem is that there aren't as many weeks in the school year as there are in a calendar year so I've put these two festivals in the same display.
I suggested to my classes that each child produced a nativity in a shoebox. I had no confidence that they would actually do it - not in significant numbers anyway.
Boy was I wrong.
My classroom resembles a defunct shoe shop and the level of creativity is awesome. We have nativities where the star actually lights up, we have farmyard figure and mini holy family sets. There are wonderfully created Magi and an awful lot of straw. Some figures are made from clay, others from brightly coloured plasticine. There are wonderfully inventive mini Magi-gift-sets and lolly-stick stables. We have palm trees made from pipe-cleaners and some, frankly, quite scary angels. I have so many shoe boxes I have to change the display daily.
This has not been without it's problems though.
"Sir, I've lost Mary on the way to school. I think she's been run over."
"Sir, I'm missing a sheep. I think it may be loose in my bag."
The whole display is topped off by a large Hanukkah candelabra and some brightly word processed pages of commentary and explanation. What has been lovely has been the positive reaction to the displays from other students and staff. Well, apart from Maths Karl, obviously.
"It's just land-fill in the end."
On Thursday I had my bottom set 13 year olds. They really are a challenge but they respond very well to unmerited praise.
You know, what I really like about you lot is how well you listen. This to a group who have never knowingly been silent. They preen themselves.
We have been looking at religious attitudes to drug use and spent a good time discussing "legal" highs.
Why is the word legal in speech marks? I enquire.
"Er, that doesn't make sense because they're legal. Duh!
Actually, no. They are only "legal" in as much as the authorities haven't been able to analyse them and declare them illegal because of the volume of them on the market and the ever changing nature of the chemical cocktail. Any questions? Yes, Ryan?
"Sir, is it illegal to masturbate on a plane?"
Erm... now what was the word I was groping for here? I know ... ANYWAY! Moving on.
This is now the mantra of the day. You can hear "BOGIES" from various corners of the school/
"BOGIES!!!" (From somewhere beyond the I.T. suite.) Ah, Ryan'll be in Art.
"Can I clean the board Sir?"
That's kind but don't worry, I shan't be using it just now.
"But I hate all those half bits of words and phrases from where you've not cleaned it properly."
"That" announces Kayleigh "is because you're STD!"
"Sir, Is the Pope a Catholic?"
I look at Elise. She is a clever girl and I can see she is mentally backtracking.
"Ha!! You'll have to come and sit over here on the retards table."
Davina! I never said you were retards.
"Sorry Sir. Elise: you'll have to come and sit on this set of tables where Sir, in his cleverly crafted seating plan, has put those of us who are failing to get our target grades."
Davina is also a clever girl. (Even if she isn't getting her target grade in R.S.)
I have been looking at Religion and Medical Ethics with my Yr. 10 classes and we have been considering various attitudes to fertility treatment. This includes discussing both AID and AIH and I have found a poster from some Health Authority that pronounces, "Sperm donation. So much more fun than blood donation."
This goes completely over their heads.
"So is it like blood donation Sir. Do you give a pint?" Marcus is a student who annoys me beyond measure.
Yes Marcus. That's right.
Satisfied that I have emotionally traumatised Marcus, I go to lunch.