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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Reasons not to buy educational supplies that taste good




I knew that if I said to the girl on the checkout, 'Look, I know what you're thinking, but the reason I'm buying 16 bars of chocolate is because I am using them in a class on Monday to help students explore the English language' she would have been very cynical about it.  She'd have raised one eyebrow, looked at a colleague in a kind of get-this-fat-idiot! way and deliberately announced, 'THAT WILL BE TEN POUNDS FIFTY FOR THOSE SIXTEEN BARS EACH CONTAINING AT LEAST 960 CALORIES AND A FATAL DOSE OF CHOLESTEROL, MADAM' and everyone in the shop would have looked my way.  And, of course, it had to be today that I chose a bright pink t-shirt.  So everyone would have been looking and thinking, 'But she already looks like a strawberry blancmange!  Why make things worse?'

In the light of all these possibilities, I didn't say anything.  I just kept my head down while she dropped them all in a bag for me (one by one, and very slowly, I swear), paid, and bolted.

But I really AM using them for teaching, it's true.  Studying chocolate bar wrappers is a great way to learn about the language of persuasion, and it's funny how hard the kids concentrate when you say, 'When we've explored the use of English on the wrappers and you've made some EXCELLENT notes, we'll be eating the chocolate.'  It concentrates the mind beautifully.

The whole thing raises some dilemmas, however.

1. I bought 16 bars, 2 each of 8 different types.  This meant that, on the bus on the way home, when suddenly a chocolate craving gnawed at my psyche, I couldn't eat one, because that would have left me with an odd one.  So that would mean I'd have to eat 2.  And that would leave me possibly short for the lesson.  Which would mean having to go back to the shops and replace the missing bars.  (I was just working out when I'd be able to do this when I realised I was at my stop, so I was rescued in the nick of time.)

2. It's hot at the moment.  I'm going to have to keep the chocolate in the staff room fridge to keep it all cool.  Now, all I'll say here is that teaching is a stressful job, and if I had had a tough morning and then found a bag of someone else's chocolate in the staff fridge, I might have a little moral decision to make, one which would last about 0.3 seconds.

3. If I don't put it all in the fridge, and it's a hot day on Monday, that's going to be one very messy lesson, especially once they've all handled the wrapped chocolate several times to look at the words on the packets.  (I've had a recent experience which makes me extra-wary.  I was on a school trip on Friday and the staff contingent was sitting out in the warm sun while the kids were having their lunches.  I had bought a bar of chocolate from the cafe and was already regretting it because the others had all bought salads and fruit, damn them.  But as this whacking great brick of Cadburys was sitting on my tray, I had to go through with it. Anyway, I unwrapped it, and it was only once it was unwrapped that I realised it was virtually chocolate sauce.  But you know how it is ... you can't back down at those kinds of times.  I ate the whole thing, trying to pretend it was completely normal to have chocolate that you had to scoop out of the packet with your fingers as though it were soup.  

4.  All the chocolate cost me a lot of money.  Can I claim for this?  Can I really write '16 bars of chocolate' in the 'educational resources' column on the claim form?  It just doesn't sound the same as 'photocopiable worksheets on iambic pentameter' or 'software for Charles Dickens scheme of work'.

5. I WANT TO EAT THE CHOCOLATE MYSELF.  Forget all the other issues; this is my main and pressing problem, as may be deduced from my chosen font style.  And I'm not sure I'm up to the task of resisting the temptation.  So, my lesson plan may well have changed by Monday morning from 'Analysing the Linguistic Features of Chocolate Bars' to 'Analysing the Linguistic Features of Any Tin of Food I Happened to Have in the Cupboard'.

(And if there's anyone out there saying, 'Surely she couldn't eat 16 bars of chocolate over a weekend', all I can say is, 'Try me'.)

21 comments:

  1. Can I please, please, PLEASE, join your class. I'm in dire need of some education. Especially of the Cadbury's kind.

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  2. Why wasn't I taught English by someone like you , at school ? I'd probably have known what to do with a comma , for a start .
    A nun called Squirrel ... well , not to her face obviously .... was more into abnegation and self-denial . She could have helped you with your current problem admirably .

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  3. Take a picture of the chocolate bars, or keep the wrappers for the kids to read. You are so lucky that Hershey's have not yet changed the flavor and consistency of your Cadbury's bars, as they have here. It's inedible and very disappointing.
    Maybe a lesson plan concerning the multiple moral dilemmas involved would be just as good.

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  4. Man, this post made me wish I was back in school and had you for a teacher! I think our teachers occasionally bought us ice cream for the pre-vacation lazy days, though, so it wasn't all bad.

    Anyway, good luck on preserving the chocolates, be it from heat, moral decisions and chocoholics!

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  5. And if you lived closer, I would hop in the car and assist you. It would be my duty, I feel.

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  6. I have the PERFECT solution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Eat the chocolate. Keep 2 bars aside, showing remarkable restraint. Let the kids read the wrappers which you will keep, and analyse the words written on them. Then break up the remaining couple of bars and feed them to the salivating hordes. Tell them you have been collecting wrappers for months, if they ask. For this particular lesson. You are a saint. And if you just put 2 bars in the staff room fridge, people will feel too guilty to steal them, especially when you attach a post-it note to them telling any would be scavengers that they are part of some important experiment. They will think the chocolate is contaminated.
    Thank you. You are welcome.
    I have been a teacher too.
    Enjoy!

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  7. Look, it's only Saturday. Corner shops and garages sell chocolate. Why torment yourself like this? Go out and buy yourself lots of chocolate NOW! If anyone comments on just how much, say you were ordered to do so by someone who ate rather a lot of small cakes today.

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  8. Omigosh this is the funniest post I've read all week!! I just can't stop laughing. Fran you kill me.

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  9. This is the most brilliant excuse/justification
    for buying 16 chocolate bars that I have ever encountered. Sadly, the reason for keeping them is not nearly as good, but, what the hell....enjoy

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  10. So funny,
    Could you just not pretend it's a maths lesson and ask questions like, if teacher eats sixteen bars of chocolate, how many are left? Worth a try.
    Why are you still at school? Irish schools closed a week now, I would definitely eat the chocolate to compensate for overwork if I were you.

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  11. Steve - you are very welcome. Periods 1 & 2 on Monday morning. You will need to wear a skirt or you will look out of place. Hope that's okay.

    SmitandSon - knowing what to do with a comma isn't everything. Unless you're a Professor of Punctuation at Oxford University - then I guess it might be embarrassing if you didn't.

    English Rider - Seeing as I am quite happy to scoop liquid chocolate from a wrapper, I'm not sure I can say that I'm that worried about consistency....

    Cruella - I assure you, I only bring chocolate to lessons when I think it might be of educational benefit. So that's just Mondays ... and Tuesdays ... and Wednesdays .. and ... yeah, well, perhaps you're right.

    Linds - I can just see them all saying, 'But these wrappers seem almost new, Miss'. I think I might have to crease them up a bit.

    Rachel - you made me feel a lot better with your lots of small cakes comment. You know how to cheer a person up, big-time.

    KarenG - keep laughing. The more you're laughing, the less time you have to eat chocolate. It's a weight loss strategy. (I'm saying this ... you may only be the size of a locust.)

    Lo - thank you for dropping in. What do you mean, excuse/justification. Are you saying ... are you saying .. you think I may just be buying the chocolate so that I get to eat some? How could you?

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  12. You're using the old: 'It's not for myself, it's really for them' excuse eh! Nice touch with the Educational component added. Think I'll try this one myself. OK but how does one deal with the guilt? I can see it leading me to wanting to eat even more chocolate, then more guilt, then more chocolate........

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  13. Husband used to buy multiple Mars Bars for just this purpose - but he has a lot of will power when it comes to chocolate. He also used to take our large ginger cat McCavity to class when teaching the poem - imagine lesson plan - but we were living on campus so it wasn't too difficult (he didn't have to claim cat travel costs...

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  14. Jane - I hate people with willpower. I am sure they are all aliens really. I wish I had a large ginger cat called McCavity. Our landlord won't let us have a cat. Meanie.

    Maggie - guilt? What guilt? Me no understando.

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  15. Brigid - I have been browsing websites with houses for rent in Ireland all evening.

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  16. This in turn has thrown up (sorry - I hope you didn't after 16 bars) some dilemmas for me too.

    1. I've been in the UK for FOUR whole days and I haven't eaten any Cadbury chocolate. (What the hell's the matter with me?)

    2. I'm trying to understand what's wrong with eating chocolate with a spoon if the climate so dictates. Surely that's just sensible?

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  17. The only thing a teacher every brought to a lesson in my school was a pig's heart. Yum.

    Anna May x

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  18. A-line or mini? I have both.

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  19. J J - you must buy some immediately. If you are in England for more than 5 days without eating some Cadburys chocolate, you spontaneously combust, and it's not pretty.

    Anna May - didn't you tell the teacher that blackboard rubbers were much better for rubbing off chalk than a pig's heart?

    Steve - It's a double period, so you could start in one and change for the second half.

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  20. So what did you do then? Don't keep us in suspense!

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  21. elizabethm - what did I do? I ate all the chocolate, of course, bar after scrummy bar. And then I woke up and it was all a dream. And then I took the chocolates to school on Monday and did 2 very passable-though-I-say-it-myself lessons on the language of persuasion. Ah. Difficulty. They didn't eat all the chocolates. There are still some left. What to do, what to do?

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