This week the spotlight fell on Mollie in year 10, and her startlingly similar-looking older sister Charlotte. In some ways we were looking through the microscope at the same thing we always do: pupils who could do well, but for one reason or another, aren’t. T’was ever thus. We focussed on Mollie though, the- apparently- very bright pupil who was on a collision course with..well, with anyone within kicking distance. As ever, I need to give some context to this blog: the real Millie and Charlotte, I don’t know. All I can comment upon is the edit we’re allowed to see. Still, it was revealing; in fact, this week was a particularly masterful creation from the producers, who gave us a three-act melodrama, with set-up, complication, crises, resolution, and some full-throated character arcs. And in the end, everyone learned something, and we got to see Mr Drew’s socks, which HAS TO BE some kind of bonus (Mr Happy, in fact. Presumably Mr Tenacity was unavailable).
TV Mollie, we were told by the voice over and by Mr Drew and Charlotte was very bright. I guess there are all kinds of intelligence then (and I don’t mean sodding de Bono either; Thinking Hats my righteous white ass), because when I think of intelligence, I don’t think of someone stubbornly setting their shoulder against the world for the right to wear a non-regulation jacket or a pound and a half of Estée Lauder. I don’t think of someone who blows up like thermite in a microwave every time someone asks them to not call a teacher a fucking prick. But I’m old fashioned.
I know that it is currently in vogue to describe every type of aptitude as an intelligence, even if the intelligence under discussion involves ping-pong or something (you can call it table-tennis all you like, it’s ping-pong to me). The great thing about this is that the word intelligence itself gets so inflated, and covers so much territory, that it essentially starts to mean almost anything. Oh, hang on, that’s a bad thing.
I think I’d rather go with, ‘Mollie displays signs of intelligence. And other times she tells people to go stick things up their arses, with very little persuasion needed, even if by so doing she turns ploughshares into swords and allies into enemies.’ I suppose it’s a sort of intelligence.
Oh, I know what they mean- she has an innate capacity to compute, to recognise, to discern; perhaps she has the talent to do subjects relatively easily. We know what you mean by intelligence. I bet she has stacks of it. But what one does with it…that;s the rub. I know many, many intelligent people stacking shelves in Asda. And, thanks to the somewhat brainless requirement of the last government, that 110% of all school leavers (or something) should go to University, I know plenty of very qualified people shaking fries at Fridays. Mollie, we are told, ‘Could be anything that she wanted to.’
And that’s true; but it’s just as true for the vast majority of our students: the only difference between their outcomes is what they do in between arriving at school and leaving. Some people have a bit/ lot more natural talent then others (see: Film Club) but I have rarely met a student who couldn’t get an A in just about anything if they were prepared to put the required amount of effort into it. I could climb Mount Everest, if I gave myself an early enough start. But I won’t: because I choose not to. Everyone has potential; that’s the damned thing. It’s our job to teach them to believe that, at the same time as we show them that potential means nothing without the sweat that unlocks it.
Mollie’s tragedy, as it is for so many of them, is that she could do well, but she keeps detonating every time someone asks her to put her pipe out; and her pipe smoketh eternally. Every time we see her, she’s impersonating Eyjafyallajokull (fuck off, spellcheck), usually punctuating her exchanges with (usually) Mr Drew with quips like ‘Oh GODDDDDDD!’ or ‘RGGGGHHHH!’. I can see why they say she’s bright.
In interview, she shows some sense of reflection. ‘I don’t mean to be rude..it’s like I got Tourette’s or something…’ Always love how we teachers have so perfectly absorbed the language of the market, the social worker and the pop-psychologist, that our children have absorbed it osmotically. How many kids, twenty years ago, would have described themselves as ‘unable to work independently’ or ‘struggling for ways to manage their temper’? Not many. We have adopted the idiom of the diagnostic physician for so many aspects of our behaviour that previously on ER, would have been described as perfectly normal (if unusual) points on an expected scale: it breaks my heart to see how often we now offer our witless, worthless diagnoses of behavioural problems, as if they were viruses possessed by, and inhabiting the person of the student, rather than being descriptive statements about observed behaviours.
Where once I would have been castigated for being rude and hot tempered, now I can be said to have ‘anger management’ problems. I can be given special provision for my tendency to tell people to go fuck themselves. I can even get a statement, with the funding that entails.
I’m not denying the existence of real mental problems- in fact, I think that our society stigmatises and marginalises real mental problems of the human condition, although even seeing some of these as pathological is problematic, and probably says as much about our social relationship with the condition as anything else. Homosexuality used to be included as a mental problem; depression wasn’t. Swings and roundabouts, really.
Anyway. I only mention it, because the inevitable result of all this labelling guff is that kids start to feel that they’re not responsible for their actions. Why? Because when you describe a personalty trait as a condition, then it becomes alien to one’s character, and something you’re not to be judged for. It’s like a fat man patting his belly and saying, ‘I’ll need to get rid of this.’ It IS you! Worse, teachers fall into this game too, and say, ‘I know you’re nice, deep down’ as if there were two people being discussed, instead of one with the capacity to act well and…less so.
In the end, what you wish you’d done is bullshit: we’re judged by what we do and what we refrain from doing. Someone who acts appallingly one moment and angelically the next, is a bit of both. Jekyll and Hyde were parts of the same whole. When the child realises this, the adult starts to emerge from the rubble of character. Some people never get this far. And sometimes it’s because we treat them as if their behaviour and their character were somehow two different things, rather than one being the progenitor of the other. Unless we accept responsibility for our actions, we are doomed to go through lives believing ourselves to be helpless conduits for our whims, and deterministic robots, devoid of moral shame or blame. To Hell with that. Either we’re moral beings, with free will and the capacity to choose, or we are not. If we are not, then our entire culture makes no sense, life has no meaning, and do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
So I prefer to imagine that we’re responsible for ourselves. There is no universal escape clause. There is just us, and the things we do. It takes guts to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I did that,’ especially when the actions are shameful. But the flipside is that we can be proud when we act well. Any other way is soulless.
|Vic Goddard, preparing for assembly|
‘The words just come out,’ admits Mollie when she is asked about her outbursts. Mr Drew nails this point to the wall when he asks Edina about why she called a teacher a prick. ‘Would you call your granny a prick?’ he asks, in what you might have presumed was a conversation ender. Alas, Edina concedes that she might call her her Granny a prick, after all. Which is nice (Note to Edina: don’t expect Harry Potter Lego in your stocking this year).
But the point is still made: if you can refrain from clobbering Gran-Ma-Ma with a blunderbuss of cuss, then you can do it in other circumstances.
We witness this all the time in schools: the child with EBD who is perfectly capable of behaving in subjects he likes, for teachers he responds to. The ADHD pupil who gets a B in one subject, but Xs in everything else. People, for the most part, are perfectly capable of controlling themselves when they want to: when they see a reason; when they feel enough pressure to do so. The motivation might be self-interest; it might be duty; it might be compassion. Whatever.
To my eyes, Mollie’s outbursts were perfectly within her power to restrain; which isn’t to say that she likes to do them, but that, deep down, somehow, they make sense to her. Her back story, which is common enough to be mundane, but painful enough to generate sympathy, suggested fractures at home, and a displacement of attention as she moved from being one of three siblings, to suddenly becoming one of a Baker’s Dozen of children, dislocated from the nuclear role she occupied and suddenly, to a young mind, peripheral to the love she needed. Who knows? I won’t insult her or her family by further speculation; all I can do is offer conjecture about what I saw on TV- a young girl who doubted herself so much that she behaved in a way that got attention from adults, and possibly proved to everyone that she was as much trouble as they thought she was.
The relationship between her and Drew was touching: he was the scratched record, the hard-ass who could always be relied upon to toe the hard line with her. At first she predictably kicked off against it like Osama Bin Laden in the Playboy Mansion (which is where, incidentally, they should have locked him up: that would have shown him); over the weeks of report, she seemed to acquiesce. And that , my friends, is why we do what we do: provide boundaries, electrify the fences, and just..repeat ad infinitum. It’s called being reliable. It isn’t sexy (unless your tastes are very niche); it isn’t exciting, and it doesn’t get you invited to many motivational speaker gigs (God save us) but it’s 50% of what teaching is all about: being a reliable adult.
|Now what was it called again..?|
That means turning up on time, doing what you say you will, and being fair. It means being tough sometimes, and putting people on the naughty step when they deserve it .It also means wanting the best for pupils, and letting them know it, at the time time as you keep them behind, call their parents or give them a detention. Tough love, I will say until the Last Day, is still love.
Drew, it seems, is a Jedi of this skill. It is, I might add, enormously encouraging to see senior staff being given such a strong pastoral responsibility in school and the time to do something about it. I’ve no doubt he’s rushed off his titties, but at least he appears to be master of the naughty room, and allowed to inhabit the space. He steals my educational crown of the week this week. Also, because of his comment to Mollie when she finally reached his desk for the first time: ‘I’m not interested in why you misbehave.’ Which is exactly right- by this point the student needs to start taking responsibility for their own actions, and fast. The understanding has preceded that point, for months and months; by that point, a child needs to see that only they can turn the situation around, and sometimes that means cutting off the cuddles and turning up the compulsion.
As the narrative progresses, we’re allowed glimpses of Mollie coming round to the system’s needs. Because that’s what she needs: to understand what battles to pick, and when to pick them. Fight the battles that are worth fighting, and not simply fighting everything because you’ve got a pair of paws and they’re in reach, which is what she seems to do in this episode. And, eventually, she ends the year with 5 A*-C GCSE grades; impressively early. They could have ended the episode with Drew hurdling the benches of Harlow while grateful children try to keep up with him, as he shadow boxes up the steps of the Harvey Centre and yawps with victory. Instead we got Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s my life.’ It’ll do.
And of course, that’s what all the effort was for: weathering every gale of rudeness, every storm-in a tea cup. Because every teacher worth a damn wants the best for the kids, and wants them to leave with as many qualifications as possible to make their life as close as possible to their flourishing.
THAT SAID, it’s only possible to provide an environment for kids like that when someone has the time to look after them; to indulge their outbursts, and to act as a conduit between their poor choices and their better ones. In a school where such pupil behaviour is more common, we pass a tipping point where indulging such behaviour leads to the demolition of the educational space: I’ve written before about the silent majority who want to learn and don’t get all the attention, because some band of arseholes has commandeered the lesson for their own amusement. Nurture groups and individual interventions are only possible when they are the exception, rather than the norm.
Good luck to her, and her simulacrum sister; Mollie was, despite her foul temper and childishness, charming. Mr Drew ended up seeming to be her in-school father; and he proved it to her by being the one person who was prepared to keep telling her she was wrong. She was fortunate indeed, to have the services of such a man. Despite his socks.
Although was it just me, or did she end up wearing the jacket she was forbidden from wearing at the start of the show. Either there were pixies in the continuity, or the rules changed over time. Still, it was beautiful to see her walk up to him covered in, no doubt, top class slap, and wait for his reaction.
Clear off, scumbags.
|‘We’re not so different, Drew and I.’|
- ‘Do I look sophisticated?’ she asked, sporting her Harold Lloyd Gregory Pecks.
- ‘Do I look like an Essex Girl?’ she asked, wearing the same face furniture. I don’t understand how she went from one to the other.
- Drew’s Taxonomy of what constituted the great and the good: Snooker players who admit fouls; that guy in front of the tank of Tienanmen Square; parents.’ Priceless. It was the combination of Burmese opposition politicians and Hurricane Higgins that got me.
- Steps’ greatest hits blasting out in the office: Mr King’s note-perfect hangdog reaction to Katy Perry’s Firework. Which is, admittedly, completely shit.
- Charlotte, one mark off a C: ‘Yessssssss!’ *hands in air, fist-pumping. Who said the art of succeeding gracefully was dead?
- Drew’s Scatter Graph of Fail. Every study support room should have one.
- Vic Goddard, doing his Johnny ‘Man in Black’ Cash Impression. Also, sporting a dandy tan from the half term, no doubt.
- Tina’s soothing strategies: Stan’s co-pilot in a room that must reek of desperation at times
- Mollie’s contribution to Student Voice: ‘I’m sure that if you took a survey of all the students, they’d…tell you how uncomfortable they were at school…’ Which is another reason I hate Student Voice with EVERY ATOM IN MY BODY UNTIL THE END OF TIME.
- Drew, attempting to remember what the remake of Fantasia was called. I think it might have been Fantasia 2000. Might be wrong.
- Mollie: ‘Mr Drew and me…we’re quite similar people.’ AH YES, AUSTIN POWERS, WE’RE NOT SO DIFFERENT YOU AND I! Ah, Moriarty, will I grapple thus with thee forever?
- This week’s montage- the Cleaners. Props to the cleaner massive.
|Sugar’s grimace: terrifying.|
|‘Sweet on the tongue,’ apparently. Unlike Watermelon.|
|Hayley: surprisingly sane|
|I look at this and think ‘success.’|
|Back to the dishes, mate.|
|Vanilla Ice. NO JOKE.|
|Do NOT cross this woman. She will chin you.|
- Harry H: ‘He was Heavenly to work with…I’ve had perfect time to reflect.’ What is this, Downton Abbey?
- Mystic Mahamed: ‘Watermelon- no one’s gonna buy that. But honey is sweet on the tongue.’
- Nick: ‘He snatches at the facts.’ You fact-snatcher. Great insult.
- Sugar to slippery James de Griz: ‘Watch it, OK? Watch it.’ *James nods, sweating*
- Harry H, talking about the boardroom scrap: ‘It was like the Battle of the Somme.’
- Lewis, talking about the same thing: ‘It was like Pass the Parcel!’
|Mean Girls: unlike British Schools.|
|We are the Borg. Resistance is futile. Prepare to be ignored.|
|‘We’re not talking to you, yeah?’|
|‘I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe. I try not to dwell on them.’|
|Together: ‘Love ya.’|
- Mr Drew dealing with the parent’s complaint of one student sending another an email containing ‘Three gay men taking a shower, playing with each other’s genitals and having sex. Which is really quite a lot of descriptive detail. Isn’t the internet lovely?
- The ‘What is Pi’ moment came and went; but like a good trailer to a bad movie, we’d already seen the funniest bit. That and the eyelash extensions like Venus Flytraps that girls so admire these days.
- Dr Nicholson the science teacher, resplendent in his lab coat: Old School. Pony tail: Rock School. We also saw a beautiful insight into the world of the gifted pupil who wants to stay behind and talk about neutron stars and stuff. Dr Nicholson was an old hand at it, responding with, ‘If it doesn’t scare you, you don’t understand it.’ Presumably he was talking about the EU bail-out.
- Another member of staff parenting an episode’s protagonist? Is everyone related in this show? Educating Utah?
- ‘Pneumonia’s wee’ isn’t it?’ Sociable Carrie, possibly talking about ammonia. Or Paul Newman.
- ‘Its burning my spot!’ Ashleigh’s undoubtedly accurate reply.
- Brad walking into a world of pain at school, ‘Cause I drew some proper fuckin’ detailed picture of a cock.’ Give that boy a BTEC!
- This week’s montage: eating crisps, ending with Drew hoovering up what looked suspiciously like the crumbs from the lid of a tube of Pringles, you gannet.
- Dr Nicolson’s comment about bitchy girls: ‘With chemicals, there’s no hidden agenda.’
- The corridor cut-scene where some gormless wretch tried to karate kick his chum in the stones, fell over in the process, before getting an appropriately ironic toe in his own charlies from his target. Who says there’s no justice?
Off to speak at an education conference in Spain about Cyberbullying for a few days, so the Educating Essex blog will drop sometime on Monday. Unless they get 4OD in Leon in which case I am ON THAT THING. Incidentally, Vic Goddard kindly let me know that the Film Club were watching… Lord of the Rings. Of course.
Clear off, scumbags.
Head of Sex-ed
‘Lord make me chaste…but not yet.’
‘Sex without love is an empty experience…but as empty experiences go, it’s a pretty good one.’
This was the week in which a poll (ultimate truth alert!) revealed that 72% of children didn’t have the chance to influence their sex education lessons at school, and 78% of them thought they should. The message is clear- let the children speak; let their views echo through every valley and over every mountain top, yea, unto the lands of Cameron and the lands of Gove. Let every classroom ring with their voices, etc etc. It’s student voice again. Save me.
“We are calling on young people to seize the opportunity to make their voices heard by telling us what they think 21st Century SRE should cover, to better meet their needs.”
Jules Hillier, Brook [teen sex health charity] deputy chief executive
21st century sex and relationships? I’d love to see how that differs from the boring old 20th century version. Does it involve Real Dolls and cables? I think not, I think not. Sexual relations between people has been- and I’m sticking my neck out here- a bit of a constant feature of humanity since Adam looked at Eve and said, ‘You need some help with that?’ Brook, the charity that commissioned the report (which therefore puts it entirely in the realm of credibility) is, I might add, righteous and good. The research, alas, was conducted by a third party called Research Bods, which proudly advertises its services as an agent for ‘PR, Marketing and advertising.’ One of the products they offer is ‘news generation’; isn’t that nice? They certainly got the kind of sciency news that gets published here. But I am cynical.
Educating Essex roared back into town with another episode that belied the tacky title this series has been saddled with: once again, we saw two main threads developed with sensitivity and some style.
The first one was…, well NOT sex, sex, sex, but the results thereof, as we followed the revelation of a student’s pregnancy and the way that hormonal hand grenade detonated in everyone’s lives. The protagonists were Liam and Sky, a sweet couple of kids who had done what generations had done for millennia before them and would continue to do so- fallen in love. Never, of course, underestimate the potency of a young love; it’s easy to scorn its depth and breadth from the vantage of eminence, but from inside the tryst, it’s as serious as anything more mature.
|‘I used to be a maths teacher.’|
Of course, they looked like children, too young to become parents. But that’s the convention of our culture; in other times and countries, they would have been the oldest parents in the village. Their bodies were clearly ready for the demands of the life force, but were their minds? This is always the main worry for professionals in charge of the welfare of children- can they handle it? Fortunately, it seemed that they could. Sky seemed, for the cameras at least, proud and happy to be carrying the next generation of Essex, and God bless her. Even her friends commented on her strength and grace, and so did I (you probably didn’t hear it, I was on the couch). Liam looked a bit more frazzled by the whole prospect, but if he had any reservations beyond the expected impact shock, we didn’t see it. He seemed more worried about what his Grand Dad would think, getting Sky’s mum to do the talking. He’s 16. Can you blame him?
Fortunately Grandpa was as cool as Christmas about the whole thing, although he admitted that his own dad would have blown a gasket if he’d done the same. It was, I must say, quite beautiful to see the rallying round that turned a teenage pregnancy from a potential disaster into the joy and awe that a new life can bring. If Vinni last week didn’t get a lump in your throat, then this was the second assault on your tear ducts.
And just as important was the reaction of the school: Vic Goddard, our knight-errant Head, did what he’s proved he does immaculately: understand, empathise and nurture. Liam was even offered Hot Chocolate. His face looked like Edward in Narnia being offered coffee and Turkish Delight by the White Queen. ‘Oh Boy!’ his eyes seemed to say, despite the whole baby conundrum. Then we met my educational hero of the week, Mrs Goddard, who shared her on-screen husband’s Betazoid emotional telepathy and gave them just the balance of reassurance and inspiration that the kid needed. ‘I wish I hadn’t done it now,’ Liam conceded understandably. ‘Well, tough, eh?’ said Vic, being exactly as direct as he needed to be, before compounding it with kindness and a reminder that everyone at school would help them through it.’I wouldn’t say you’ve made the best choice,’ he said, ‘but you are where you are.’ Have a hot chocolate, mate.
|Sex: ‘Not uncommon.’|
Liam seemed like a desperately decent young man, and showed it by focusing on getting through his exams and taking a course at college in painting and decorating to start supporting his new family. Life doesn’t permit us the luxury of making the choices we’d prefer very often; and when it throws an earthquake in our path, all we can do is start building again when the shaking stops. That, or bury ourselves in the rubble and ask, ‘Why me?’
The second plot line was sadder: an angry young man called Luke, 15, one of the 2% of the school populace who, in the words of Vic, ‘Took up 70% of the resources.’ We know he’s tough, because Vic tells us, ‘I know there’s a successful young person in there….but he tests my patience.’
And how: he’s been on report for weeks on end. ‘Being on report is serious,’ the narrator intoned with gravity. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem too serious to Luke if he’d been on report for so long; people can get used to any circumstance, given enough time. In his case he had to take his report to the eternally patient Ms Conway, Head of House, who had a rare and wonderful combination of teacher qualities: being direct and compassionate. Poor Mrs Goddard had to bear the blast of a Force Ten Luke when he stormed out in an angry huff from her lesson, with zero provocation other than the gentle pressure to work- every teacher’s duty and citadel. She demonstrated Garbo-like self-mastery in her refusal to either back down or blow up at him; the virtuous mean of assertiveness and mutual respect.
But Luke, as many angry young men are, was too far into a temper to back down; I could sense the rage, the wounded pride, and almost certainly the tortured regret that made it so hard for him to back down from the lonely corner into which he had boxed himself. We were also given the God’s-eye narrator’s gift of omniscience with the revelations that Luke had, like many others experienced tragedy in his life, reminding us that kids often have to endure circumstances that would break many older people.
When the staff were chasing him around school, propelled by rage, someone said, ‘He’s having a bad day.’ He had a lot of bad days, it seemed. Entered early for examination because they suspected that he might not make it to the end of GCSEs, he couldn’t hold it together, kicked off at the exam officer, and bowled out in another rage, angry at the world. ‘Good teachers,’ it was mentioned at the SLT meeting, ‘Say he’s unteachable.’ He lasted to the end of the year, and left with 7A*-Cs at GCSE, so the patience and the effort paid off to some extent, at least for Luke.
At what cost? I worry, and I wonder, often, about the impact that facilitating perpetually angry and combative pupils has on the rest of the school body. It’s a theme I return to often. Often, through reasons purely driven by compassion, we neglect the silent, biddable majority, and deny them the compassion that we extend to the minority. It’s a familiar argument in politics as it is in philosophy: do we distribute resources according to need, or by desert? Kids like Luke (KLL) need the time and the effort, but what do the other kids need? The amount of manpower and resources locked into containing and nurturing the merest candle light in these pupils sacrifices the mainstream to their demands. By tying the top to the bottom so closely, someone always suffers, and it’s almost always the ones who want to learn and benefit from education.
This isn’t an argument for turfing anyone out onto the street, but a recognition that mainstream schools aren’t the right environment for a very small percentage of the school body, who persistently undermine the common good; they need to be nurtured more carefully and closely in special educational units, where they can get the one-top-one support they need, while allowing the mainstream the relative calm that they need. Sure, the objective can always be reintegration, but that shouldn’t be a right but a privilege. Society makes these demands in the broader social sphere, so why shouldn’t schools replicate that norm? Having a bad day isn’t a good enough excuse for being rude to anyone else- it’s a reason, sure, but not a good one. Being angry doesn’t make you punch a wall. Self-restraint is intrinsic to selflessness; the realisation that we are ALL important, and all equally deserving of attention. We demand that children go to school, not because we enjoy locking them in classrooms, but for their benefit whether they realise it or not. One’s emotional state doesn’t justify cruelty or casual malice towards others, otherwise our laws would be legislated on egoism rather than the common good.
Luke’s last admission was particularly devastating: ‘I’d rather not try and not fail, than try and fail.’ I weep, and the civilised teaching world weeps at words like that. My heart breaks for kids full of anger and unhappiness, it really does. I wish I could reach out my hand and heal their hearts, every one of them.
But we cannot; we haven’t the power, the time, the resources to do so in most schools, not without wrecking the attention we give to others. Until we realise that at a national level, many schools will suffer as they do now, doing their best and realising that it will never be enough- for all parties.
|‘Second rule of Film Club: NO SKIPPING!’|
- No blog about EE4 would be REMOTELY complete without a mention of surely the next big thing in the educational blogoverse: Film Club. We met the tiny awesomeness that is Keiran, who we first see attempting to hustle Vic into reading his first novel (Keiran is a year 7, I might add) like a pro. Vic, sensibly, encouraged him, but also encouraged him to focus on school work. If I know kids like Keiran, he’ll be beavering away at it under the bedsheets anyway, so no harm done. I bloody LOVE kids like him, all awkward and sensible, bursting with talent and the manners to do something with it that doesn’t involve telling his teachers to go f*ck themselves or taking a dump in the canteen or something. We got two scoops of Keiran though, when we met his compadres in Film Club. They’d been skipping forward on the DVD like proper rotters, and poor Keiran was missing out on plot strands or something. Mr Drew’s deconstruction of their ridiculous hurry to finish was a joy.
‘Are you being made to stay behind?’
Film Club (as one): ‘No.’
‘Do you have to be here?’
Film Club: ‘No.’
‘So what should you not be doing?’
Film Club (heads bowed in shame, conceding Drew’s implacable logic: ‘Skipping bits.’
These guys are budding comedy geniuses; they should have their own series. I’d love to see more of them, but as @ModernCassie recently pointed out, ‘The first rule of Film Club is that you DO NOT TALK about Film Club.’ So we might not see them again.
- Another montage this week: not lunch, but a Haribo and marshmallow-fest, reflecting the million tiny sugar rushes we need to get through a day. I like the EE montages. They remind me of when Julia Roberts gets kitted out in Pretty Woman.
- Mr Drew, admonishing his thousandth pupil that day: ‘Would you like me to change the rules of the world because they don’t suit you?’ Deadpan. Legend.
- In the sex education class: ‘Period Hole’. These are the end times, aren’t they?
- Mr Drew (again, worth his weight in Plutonium and diamante) handing out oranges- I fuss you not- in a pink pinny to the examination students. ‘Nice bit of fruit to go in?’ said Drew. BEYOND parody.
Next week- ‘What is Pi?’ It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for. I, for one, am looking forward to finding out EXACTLY what Pi is. And where it comes from.
Like babies, perhaps.
Clear off, scumbags.
|‘Listen to Iron Maiden baby, with me.’|
|‘I AM my note, Fritz.’|
|‘We’re not included…and we don’t care…’|
There is a frightening assumption in society these days that schools are an extension of the social services. Of course, we must liaise with such institutions because children’s lives don’t exist in convenient compartments, and Vic described how often, at multi-agency meetings, it is the school which will bear the brunt of responsibility for the child’s welfare. If they’re not breaking the law, or being specifically abused, then all else falls to us. Of course; how expected. But schools are imperfect families, and the burden of making sure that the children are fed and housed is too great for us to bear. And we’re not trained to do so. Dear God, we’re just trained enough to teach our subjects and run our own lives. If you want us to bring them up too, you’re going to have to build a bigger school. If you force us to do everything else too, then something has to give. Oh look- it’s education. Funny that.
- Children in care get £3.10 every day pocket money. Good luck with that. But £7.50 on a Friday? I presume that’s to cover the White Lightning and 20 Mayfair. Get the party started.
- The school choir singing ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ in the manner of Scala the Belgian girls’ choir. Then Mr Drew humming along as he went to obliterate some new law breaker. Ah, Brave New World.
- The queue of penitents waiting for Drew to deliver his divine justice, one after another. ‘Can you tell me which teacher asked you to download ‘Thirteen Days in Hell‘ into your user area? No? You are banned from accessing the internet until January, except from a list of approved educational sites…’ This, over and over again. Beautiful.
- The slight tension implied between Drew and Goddard in their approaches to discipline; boundaries versus autonomy. Drew chipped it out of the long grass with a masterful admission of faith in his line manager’s judgement, even if he himself had reservations. That’s not craven, that’s professional, and that’s how teams work. Save criticisms for private discussions, and work with the chain of command unless your values are irredeemably lost by doing do.
- Vinni, asked for a note to explain his stalking the corridors: ‘I AM my note.’
- ‘How many times have you got your skirt rolled up?’ said Drew to, apparently, one of the Saturdays. Takes a brave male teacher to tip-toe through that minefield.
- Loved the ‘lunch’ montage; it was like the bit in Rocky when he’s building himself up into a comeback Titan. OK, it wasn’t very much like it.