"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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Open Evening at the Knowledge College

Doesn't time fly when you're having a good time?

Yesterday I left the house at 7.00am and returned at 10.00pm. This was because of our annual open eveining where we put on a show for the kids who will be joining us next year and their parents.

It was an odd day because my new cohort of student teachers arrived and I was involved in inducting them rather than teaching my usual classes. While we were on the guided tour we popped in to my Yr 7 class and they announced that they much preffered it when Mrs. Yeates took the lesson and could she always teach them please?

At luch time we hosted a group of pensioners from the local community for lunch and our kitchen staff served a lovely roast with apple crumble to follow. I sat next to a lady called Beryl. She was very elegant and coiffed. Her clothes were very classy and age appropriate and she was wearing killer heels. She is 75.

"She shouldn't be wearing heels you know" her friend told us. "She's just had a hip replacement."

"I've not worn flats for nigh on forty years. I've no intention of starting now."

Beryl, it turns out, is a former Vogue model.

You don't get a lot of those in the general locale.

I set my class up for the baying hoards: plenty of current pupils' work and three little Buddhist shrines put together by my Yr 7s with flowers, candles, insense and food offerings etc. I logged on to Youtube to find some Buddhist chanting to play in the background for added mood and turned the lights down low.

Five minutes later my Sikh colleague popped in from the next classroom.

"Why are you playing Sikh music?"

So much for Youtube's categorising relaibility.

I decided to keep it on in the short term because it was rather lovely music. (Have a look at anything by Snatam Kaur on youtube.)

Two minutes later my other Sikh colleague popped in.

"You do know that's Punjabi?"

So, not a Buddhist then?

(These two ladies have been teaching me basic Punjabi phrases which I then go and try out on my pal Jagtar. I don't know why I bother. My Punjabi seems better than his.

"When I visit the Punjab my family and friend tease me because my Punjabi is so lamentable.")

I am pleased with the classroom and its displays and join my colleague for the meal laid on for those who have opted not to go home before the event. It is fish, chips and mushy peas, pure comfort food, and once again the kitchen staff have done us proud. It occurs to me that I've now had two quality main meals at my employer's expense and I consider myself well pleased.

Ben arrives. Ben is 12 and in Yr 8 and a nicer lad you couldn't wish to meet. He is my pupil assistant for the evening. I rather suspect he is here because he couldn't come up with an alternative engagement quickly enough. You know, watching paint dry, that sort of thing. His job is to reassure any children that transfer to high school is survivable. After all Ben doesn't look (too) traumatised.

Business is brisk and we have a fair few come in to the room. I have cleverly ensured maximum footfall by fixing it so that my classroom is on a through route to Geography and all points west. If you want to know about those subjects you have to come via me and I will engage you about Religious Studies and my lovely colleague Devinder will ... surruptitiously eat the sweets from the Yr7 Buddhist shrines! (You just can't get the staff.) I later discover that Ben has developed a taste for the sweet dates that have been put out. Good grief. Is nothing sacred?

I hear some folk talking outside the classroom.

"Its. R.E. I hated R.E...."

.... and your child will still have to study it so why don't you come in and see what its really all about.

A rather shamefaced couple slide in with their child in tow and we talk. After a period of ritual punishment (me talking about how R.S. is seriously misunderstood and how we rely on parents to be on-message about ALL curriculum subjects) I allow them to proceed to Geography.

I note too that it is the women who talk and engage. The men seem largely there to make the number up. Is there a league game on tonight? Some of these guys couldn't look less interested without the aid of mogadon.

"Pooh, it really smells in here." announces a child. My first instinct is to launch into a short but stirring lecture on the significance of first impressions but I transcend the moment and ask sweetly ...and why do you think that is?

She shrugs her shoulders and through the mouthfull of gum mumbles something unintelligable that my experience tells me is teenspeak for "I don't know."

Now we don't get any marks at GCSE for a shrug of the shoulders do we? Try again.

Her mother, sensing perhaps the way the wind was blowing, pointed her offspring to the insense stick. Out of the corner of my eye I notice that Ben is eating something.

The mother and child make a break for Geography.

Thanks for popping in. I look forward to teaching you next year.

I am feeling a bit peckish. I'm sure I put an apple on that shrine earlier.


  1. I am glad to see Geography is so popular. My experience of Parent-Teacher nights as a Geography teacher was that, when I was bored, I would go and chat to parents lined up outside Mathematics.

  2. Sikhs sing in Spanish?

    All our Open events are in the evenings, thank God, I don't know how you teachers cope with a day time eveng!

  3. Sorry, just realised you mean student teachers arriving during the day. That'll be a change from their university days and is to be wholly welcomed.

  4. Erika, I may have chosen the wrong track there.