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Friday, February 10, 2012

Partial Pleasure!


The Week Without Kids is finally beginning to get to me.  Not the “without kids” bit – what teacher worth his salt doesn’t rejoice when the clients are away!  But the relentless work that we who are left are doing.  I have had meetings and marked as though both had gone out of fashion and, let’s face it, when either of those two items is in short supply then teaching itself will have faded away.

The meetings have been productive (he admitted through gritted teeth) and, although they resulted in more work for me (I have yet to go to a meeting which didn’t) it was work that I enjoyed up to a point.

I have learned to smile and accept another part of the joyful adoption of IT that this school sees as an unending pageant of educational justification.  I am not sure that the previous sentence means anything, but I am sure that you can get the slightly jaundiced and more than grudging air with which it was written.

I have been busily selecting paintings for the test that the kids are going to have, to see if they can at least recognize the “-ism” that each neatly (or not so neatly) fits into.  This has been done on PowerPoint, which I do not use as much as I should do, and indeed, delving deeper into the artistic depths of PowerPoint was one of the aspects of my teaching that I was going to explore this term.

More visually stunning PowerPoint presentations was the first of my three or four areas of improvement.  Of the other three I have spent about 7 minutes on one and about 20 minutes on another and no time at all on the third.  This is not what I had hoped for from the “free” week which is ending this afternoon.  And, just in case you are wondering, this typing is being done in what should be my break time!

The rest of the day should enable me to complete yet more marking and I think that I will end up with (at last) some work on my Magnum Opus of Making Sense of Modern Art.  I only hope that I can remember the name of the file in which the few minutes’ work that I have done is safely lurking waiting for me to continue in my customary deathless prose.

Yet more marking has been done – which begs the questions of why it was all waiting for the space of the Trip Week to be completed!  But let it pass, let it pass!  I am now in the blessed state of being almost up to date.  No teacher is ever fully up to date.  This is a state of impossibility.  An educational Nirvana!  There is always something to be done – and that something to be done has a way of creeping up on one and biting tender parts when you least expect it.  Mainly because you have entirely forgotten about it until the space in front of you is filled with questioning faces!

So just time for another little break and a spot of work before a spot of lunch!

I have just cleaned out my pestilential mug with a Kleenex and spit and have thought of the incomparable Boundsie – the tea lady of all tea ladies in my last real school.  I hasten to add that she does not come to mind for use her use of Kleenex and spit (she must be revolving in her grave as she looks at my gross attempts to preserve the integrity of my mug!) but rather for her periodic disgust at the condition of my mug and her later vouchsafing the information that she had doused it liberally in Domestos to get rid of the ingrained tannin which was resistant to ordinary washing!  We shall not see her like again and no staff room that I have been in since has been complete without her!

I made an executive decision yesterday to go home early.  We ragged survivors, the left-overs from the Great Exodus as all the rest of the school has joined in the diaspora to other places in the name of education, have been working inordinately hard considering there was very little in the way of oversight of what we were or were not doing!

I have done a lot, but not what I really wanted to do.

I was beaten by Technological Aspirational Dysfunction.  Not on the part of the machine, oh no, my TAD comes from commercial greed.

It all comes down to a timeline.  For my MSOMA (Making Sense of Modern Art) course I wanted to construct a timeline showing when each of the eight “–isms” we look at is placed in the twentieth century.  Having at last learned to trust the computer to tell me about the computer I ventured onto the Internet to find out if there was a ready-made template for me to use.

They exist – but not quite as I want them to.  I delved deeper and discovered that timeless could be created using Excel and Word.  More delving brought me face to face with a step-by-step video.  Things appeared to be getting better and better!  But (isn’t there always a “but” when you deal with computers) each of the programs that I was considering was of a slightly different vintage to the one that I am actually using.  Added to this is the fact that I am using Microsoft programs which have been designed for use on the Mac.  It was as if I had been magically transported back to my first “real” computer, a Macintosh which supposedly worked with specially adapted Microsoft programs - and it never quite did.  And now in 2012 we are back where I began, trying to use programs which are “almost” the same as the ones that everyone else is using with their machines and finding the inevitable problems.  It is at times like this that one sees very clearly how Microsoft has made its money.  And built up a level of hatred in their imprisoned users that beggars belief.

Perhaps I have been a little hasty.  I was trying to form my timeline at the end of school yesterday and that was not the best time to be concentrating with full attention.

Today, Friday, a day I should be in school but this is an occasional day, a day of freedom – and the last day of joy until the Easter holidays – we went to Terrassa and I had an excellent lunch provided by Toni’s Mum.  I had planned to go to Barcelona and see an exhibition but returning on the motorways was threatening, with the amount of traffic building up nicely to intolerable proportions so I returned home.

And did housework.  I think I made a false call somewhere along the line!

Garzon has been stripped of his position of Judge for 11 years.  For those who cheered when this enterprising Judge tried to get the loathsome Pinochet extradited to Spain to face charges for the various crimes that he had committed, it is a time of considerable sadness that this crusading (whoops, sorry, that word is very much off limits nowadays!) this resourceful legal force has had his activities limited by what appears to be a well orchestrated and politically motivated campaign to stop him.

The fact that he was investigating a massive case of alleged corruption which implicates the ruling PP party and that the judges who have ruled against him have links to the party as well makes for a truly depressing assessment of the state of the judiciary in Spain at the moment.

The slimy ex-president of Valencia has been found not guilty of corruption by the resounding margin of 5 to 4 by the popular jury while the most enterprising judge of modern times in Spain has been stripped of his authority (and there are two other cases against him pending) is enough to make one weep.

And with that sad thought I will go to bed!
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