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'.)