Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Apples and onions
I took my wallhanging design back to the Catholic school yesterday for their approval. They liked the idea and asked me to present it to the kids, which I did. I explained to these angelic little six year olds that they were going to become flowers. I don't want to be a flower said one boy. Why? Because it's a girlie thing to be? But you could be a jaggy flower! Hmmmm, now you're talking. Another male hand shot up. I know what flower I want to be - a giant fly trap. Fine, that's a flower. And can we make flies? Yes, so that you can eat them. I can see this is going to be fun.
The school has such an orderly atmosphere and
the head teacher is so hospitable. I was even invited to stay for lunch but it was a little early so I headed to my favourite seaside cafe, as planned, to fortify myself for another encounter with the little school of horrors that afternoon.
We were back to the paper mache and it was just horrendous. It was the same substitute teacher as previously and she tried valiantly to control them. Even the head teacher came and hollered a them at one point but in the end I
just had to shout above the noise as best I could. The paste was everywhere, the children appeared to be in a state of semi-riot and in the middle of it all, a neighbouring child indulged in a little projectile vomiting.
I had been concerned that the children wouldn't know what a paper doilie was. One child had to point in order to tell me what he wanted because he didn't know the word for kitchen towel. These are eleven year old, English speaking children....allegedly.
With about half an hour to go, most children had done as much productive work as they were liable to do and I couldn't face playing referee any longer. I supervised the cleanup of the classroom and them I went off to wash the paste pots . Up to my elbows in soapy water I became angry with myself for being so defeatist. This being my last week with the children. I went back to the classroom to say goodbye and found the sub, God bless her, had them engaged in a drawing activity. My favourite project with Sally. Some of the drawings were amazing and almost reduced me to tears. I asked if I could take them home as a memento. Being in pencil, some of them are a little difficult to see . These really were the icing on the cake for me, saving me from deepest darkest despair especially after another class teacher told me this little tale.
The other class of eleven year olds in this school who are involved in a similar project were given the task of researching on line possible careers as artists. They were (rashly?) unsupervised and when the teachers later checked the sites they had visited, they were all sectarian. Young Protestants, No Surrender and the like. These children are our future?
I learned a valuable lesson just as I was about to leave the school. As I walked out the front door of the horror school in walked the head teacher from the Catholic school I had visited that morning. This crystalised in my mind the absolute necessity of never carrying tales from one school to another, no matter how horrendous your experience. That is, if you wish to continue to work in an education authority where all the teachers know each other. Good job I can let of steam here!