"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, December 20, 2012

Advent, exams and the Apocopalypse

I put my Christmas decorations up in the classroom today. The kids in my form were less than impressed.

“We break up tomorrow Sir. What’s the point?”

I’m making a gesture, a concession.

“But it’s Christmas.”

No. It’s Advent.

As ever, no one gets it. Or as my colleague Matthew noted, “Nobody cares.”

I do.

We do little enough to celebrate the post-Advent season at the Knowledge College as it is. My year group are taking mock exams this week.

A week of exams kids: Happy Christmas. (Happy Christmas too, to all our colleagues – enjoy the marking. In my case 180 scripts.)

Today it rained just to add to the joy of my lot taking their Religious Studies exam this morning. The girls, as ever, organised and sensible all have retractable umbrellas in their bags and scuttle around with a sense of urgency. The boys, on the other hand, refuse to acknowledge the need for any sort of urgency. They slummock about through the rain like snails, arriving with their hair plastered to their heads and their clothes steaming. The room soon smells like hormonal dog.

“Run? Me Sir? I’m not a paramedic.”

This whole exam business is fraught. In the past very few have bothered to take mock exams seriously or to revise but I sense a change in the general culture. Some have admitted to considerable preparation.

I take the register and look at my lot. They aren’t stupid by any means – not all of them anyway – but my fear is that they will approach their exams like they approach the inter-form quiz: by putting down the first thing that comes into their heads without thought or consideration.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, what did my true-love give to me? I had asked.

“A turkey.”


Name three of Snow White’s seven dwarves.

“Sleazy, gropy and horny.”

Hmmmmm. There may be a chance we’ve not been watching the same version of the film.

“Sir, Sir. Is the world going to end?”

Of course.

“Really? Tomorrow?”

I sense we are in a different conversation.

Do you mean the Mayan Apocalypse?


Well, they didn’t see the Spanish coming so I doubt they’ll be reliable about the end of the world. Anyway, my cousin Steve is in New Zealand where it’s already tomorrow and he’s just posted on Facebook. He didn’t say anything about Armageddon. I think he may have noticed.

Talking about the apocalypse I saw a day by day weather summary yesterday. Yesterday and today were to be dull and rainy with a high of 4 degrees. Tomorrow, though, we can expect a change to fire and brimstone with a top temperature of 4000 degrees. I wondered whether it had been sponsored by Harold Camping.

Nice and warm for Christmas though.

There are also suggestions that a significant proportion of men are delaying buying Christmas presents on the basis that the end of the world will render the need to do such shopping pointless.

Ah well. Every cloud ….

I escort my form to the exam venue.

“Is this a calculator exam Sir?

Oh Deus Meus!

By coincidence, today is the mad Physicist’s birthday. I slip a card into his pigeonhole.

“In dog years you’re dead.”

I felt it said everything that needed saying.

On arriving back at my classroom I discover my Yr. 8 class has arrived. They are both a delight and as high as kites. Ten minutes into the lesson (arguments for the existence of God – religious experience) a little like a flash mob, they burst into a spontaneous rendition of Jingle Bells followed by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I am charmed. I love these younger kids for their total unselfconsciousness.

At break my NBF Wesley from Maths comes into the office and puts the kettle on. Wes loves the R.S. Department but spends virtually no time in the Maths Department unless there is a meeting. Today there was a meeting.

“We had Secret Santa in our meeting this morning.”

What did you get?

“I got called Scrooge.”

I am not teaching as my kids come out of their exam so I go over to the refectory to canvass opinion. The general consensus is cautiously positive. A little later I scan some of their answers.

Budist don’t eet meet. Thay are vegtables.

My heart sinks until I realise that this is Martin’s offering. Martin is a lovely lad cursed with complex learning difficulties. I feel better but decide not to read any more just yet. It’s not good form to be seen running, weeping from the building. Even so, I can’t help but notice that Jordon has drawn me a yacht. It looks like the work of a five year old.

“I asked him if he was having trouble answering the questions.” The invigilator looks flustered. “He said he knew the answers but preferred to draw.”

Tomorrow is the last day of term.

I can hardly wait!

1 comment:

  1. Such joys! I'm being observed delivering a staff training session tomorrow... do you think the oberscer will note the 'Pause for end of world' inserted in the lesson plan.