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Saturday, 10 October 2015

Reasons why Fran believes that what goes around comes around

I asked my husband today for help with the crossword. 'What's the core of an atom called?' I said.

'A NUcleus!' he said. (Translation: You didn't know THAT?)

I said, 'Remember I spent most of my Chemistry lessons on the other side of the classroom door, looking in.'

'That's not Chemistry,' he said. 'That's PHYsics.'

'Yes, well, as I said, I spent most of my Chemistry lessons on the other side of the classroom door, looking in.'

It wasn't only Chemistry teachers who ejected me from lessons. My French teacher in the 1970s was Mr Rolfe, a man with dark hair and beard, his head surrounded by a frame. The frame was the window of the classroom door, outside which I languished during many lessons, peering in at him from my banishment while he taught others more willing to learn the difference between 'tu' and 'vous'.

I did nothing terrible like chair-hurling or telling teachers they were shit. But I do remember humming. And tapping. And making silly noises. Hence the evictions from the classrooms. I also see my Music teacher, my Chemistry teacher and my Art teacher framed in the same way by a window.

Now I'm a teacher myself, I realise that pupils don't have to do anything 'terrible' to ruin a lesson. Or a teacher's health. Mr Rolfe, I hope you lived to a good age. Or found suitable blood pressure medication.

Humming? you ask. Yes, I too am puzzled by my own behaviour. But when the teacher began to speak, I'd keep up a hum on one note, like the whine of an engine far away.

Tapping - that was with a pencil or a ruler. Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. Perhaps teachers would have preferred the chair-hurling.

The silly noises included cat mew-mew noises and the howling of dogs. In Music, as part of the back-row crew, I recall howling my way like a wolf on heat through Speed Bonnie Boat as the poor Music teacher tried to wrestle back control.

Some habits formed in childhood were hard to break, Fran found, just before her arrest


The Holy Bible says, What you sow, so you shall reap. Oops. Early in my teaching career, a sly nano-coven of girls took against their 'newbie' teacher, testing me out to see if I, like many newbies, would crumble like a cookie.

The girls began to click their ballpoint pens under the desks while I was talking. Click. Click. Click click. They grinned as they did it, even more so as I started sentences several times ('So, as I was saying, Shakespeare develops the theme of revenge through .... Right, as I said, Shakespeare's theme of .... Let's get on shall we? Shakespeare's theme of .... Er ... girls ....)

I think this is called 'getting your come-uppance'. Perhaps Mr Rolfe died young and was haunting me through the pens of these teenage girls, like a Biro Ghost.

On the other hand, maybe I learned something from Mr Rolfe - not the difference between 'tu' and 'vous', so don't engage me in French conversation - but what to do about hummers, tappers or clickers.

Oh, believe me, I felt like crumbling. In fact, my insides were crumbling even while my outsides maintained a poker face, threatened detentions, wrote their names on the board, and then, when they wouldn't respond, sent them outside to watch me teach about Shakespeare's theme of revenge while peering through the classroom door.

And, after a month or so of them looking daggers at me (Shakespeare again!) and me looking daggers at them, they realised I was half-bearable, and the Battle of the Biros ended.

They must be in careers themselves by now. Please ... let just one of them be in a classroom, tussling with a tapper or clicker.



14 comments:

  1. Were you in class 2L2 in Prestonpans in 1973? If so, you richly deserved all you got. (No, you weren't. All that class's names are engraved on my heart, and not in a good way.)

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    1. No, that wasn't me. But maybe some people like me ... I apologise on behalf of us all.

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    2. Thank you. But say it like you mean it...

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  2. I remember being sent out once. It was English class and half of us were gazing out the windows to the oval and Mrs G asked who would like to go out and run around that oval. I was the only idiot who raised her hand, so out I went. Every time I slowed to a walk Mrs G would yell at me through the window.
    I did the tapping, not listening, doodling thing all through every single religious instruction lesson I was made to attend. Eventually I played hooky and went to the school library instead.

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    1. Brilliant! I learned long ago that the rhetorical question ('Does anyone mind if I teach this lesson?' ....) is a no-no! It positively invites a response.

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  3. From primary school, I have many memories consisting of a sea of heads and upturned faces, as I spent so much time stood on my chair. In secondary, I was regularly sent from the classroom, so the framing you mention, resonates. There was a weird phase when I would only reply to a teacher with "Arp!" I have no idea why, but it petered out when I stopped getting laughs. It never really worked with my mother, either.

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    1. Gosh, being stood on a chair! I think I remember that, too, from primary school. As well as being whacked on the leg with a long ruler from behind when I didn't expect it by a particularly cruel teacher who'd wander up the aisles looking for those who didn't have their heads bent to the work. As for your arping, that made me smile.

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  4. I do remember the Religious Studies teacher saying that she almost preferred when I was glassy-eyed . It meant I wasn't about to start arguing .

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    1. Ah, yes, the glassy eyes. Obedient but switched-off. I love the fact that she was honest about it!

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  5. Your commentators are all so naughty. I was very good in school. Dreamy, but not cheeky. (Well, I never did my homework, but the teachers somehow didn't seem to notice...)

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    1. Maybe if you weren't one of the naughty ones, they forgave you about the homework. You wouldn't if you were in my class though - I'd hunt you down ....

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  6. I think I said "commentators". I meant "commenters". You see: dreaming again.

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  7. I was good in every class except mathematics which I just didn't "get"
    I didn't "get" chemistry & physics either but quite enjoyed being in the science labs. I didn't do maths homework, I skived lessons & was put into detention. I still don't "get" maths !

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    1. You and me both. I had to take a Maths GCSE in order to train to be a teacher, having failed miserably as a teenager. It really taught me something, being at the back of that adult education class and feeling as though I'd landed on another planet!

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