Monday, May 11, 2009

Calling the scores!

The day of giving back examinations.

I have tried to think back to how I responded when I had examination papers returned. I hope to god that it wasn’t anything like the demented response of the kids I now teach.

I seem to remember that the first thing that we did was to check the ticks and try and find a few extra marks, or check the teacher’s addition and gleefully take up a miscounted paper for the readjustment.

In my school the examination papers are not so much written examples of pupils’ skill, but rather touch papers to an explosion of accusations, recriminations, questionings, explanations and whining, weaseling demands for more marks.

The moment the papers are in the grubby little hands of the oiks the poor teacher is almost blinded by the blinding light reflected from the metallic bodies of a class full of offensively wielded calculators. Little fingers tap industriously away trying to prove the calculations of the hapless teacher wrong.

I, however, do not do the calculations: the computer does them. This assertion of ‘untouched by human hands’ calculations soon shuts them up.

They are forced to then to flaunt their English knowledge and assert with all the confidence of Professor David Crystal that the construction, “the wood was burnt over the grate’ is one which trips from the lips of all known English native speakers.

Variant spellings are thrust beneath your eyes with demands that you accept that there is nothing wrong with the spelling of ‘geografical’ or ‘infeccious’ and give the poor downtrodden students the mark that they deserve. This, of course is what they get!

The real point of doing all the marking was to be able to mark in a book those pupils who needed an ‘alerta.’ This would flag up any student who was in danger of failing the approaching examinations in June.

The culmination of today’s efforts were then discussed in a meeting of soul destroying boredom which lasted for two solid, bloody, stinking hours immediately after the end of school.

The school is small enough for all the teachers in all subjects in the first three years of the secondary section to sit in the library around a large island of tables and discuss all (and yes, I do mean all) the pupils whose results fell in the area of 5.5 or less. You have to understand that all marks, no matter how bizarre their allocation (we mark in .25 of a mark) end up as a mark out of ten.

The whole concept of the meeting is of course laudable and shows a caring school. When the discussion is conducted in Spanish with seemingly arbitrary leaps into Catalan, you can understand my lack of enthusiasm in feeling linked in to this tedious marathon. And there is part two tomorrow – though thank god I am teaching at the time of the start of the meeting and so I am unfortunately unable to be there!

By way of compensation for my ordeal, I called into the shopping centre in the next town of Gavá and specifically into the gadget shop called MediaMarkt (or some such travesty) and indulged my whims for things electrical. I am made happy by the possibility of purchase, so I was able to pass a perfectly happy time there mentally thinking covetous thoughts while only actually buying cartridges for the printed.

The cartridges now cost almost the same as buying a new printer, indeed I saw a few printers which cost twenty Euros less. In case you are thinking that I should have thought, “To hell with global warming and the evils of conspicuous expenditure: throw away your old printer and buy a new one for the cartridges.” Alas, the manufacturers have thought of that one and install special cartridges which have little ink in them. One shop assistant in Barcelona told me that the most expensive liquid on the planet is HP printer ink! And I believe him!

I have bought Pelikan cartridges which take the place of the over-priced originals and last a damn sight longer.

The weather has been very sticky today and I am sure that it has been the perfect environment for encouraging the remaining bacilli to regroup and make a renewed attempt on my well being.

Time for another lemon honey drink!
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