Thursday, February 28, 2013


Surely there is nothing more guaranteed to put a dampner on a day than to know that at 8.15 on a Wednesday morning you will be teaching the various forms of the conditional to pupils who don’t want to listen to you.  Why do they not want to listen?  Because they know (they really do) everything (and more) about the bloody conditional and the exercises that we give them they can do in their sleep.  So, a wonderful lesson is in prospect.  Just the way to start the day!

Wednesday morning was one of the coldest of the winter at only two degrees according to the thermometer in my car – but there is also a cloudless sky so no prospect of the white stuff to close the school!

I delayed teaching the conditional for as long as possible relying on vocabulary and phrasal verbs to fill up the time and then after the briefest of introductions an unexpected visitor took all the kids away for them to listen (again!) to a talk from the Charity Food Depository before things could get really tedious.

Another class has disappeared to be replaced by baby sitting for a 3ESO class who are now in regimented rows and most of whom are sitting in front of a computer and doing god knows what.  I certainly do not intend rising from my seat and finding out!

This class is actually a relief!  Not because our kids are capable of sitting quietly – something you would think impossible if you listen to them normally - but because I got the whole thing wrong.  I had assumed that I had lost another free period and that the afternoon was going to be one long slog, but it turns out that it is merely replacement so my teaching (!) load is still the same.

Looking at the class, it does strike me that laptops are the educational equivalent of a dummy for older kids and time has a way of being sucked into the machines as the kids stare empty-eyed at them.  It is also heartening to see some kids revising in the old fashioned way with pen and paper and hands over part of the paper and a soulful look to the heavens to bring the information back to the pupil.  Whatever, as long as they are quiet, I am happy.

I am now a Premium customer of Amazon.  This is not a spontaneous gesture on the part of the company for the vast wealth which flows in its direction from my bank account, oh no, nothing like that.  I have paid an extra amount of money so that I do not pay postage and I get my goods a few days earlier.

In earlier days when I actually had an accountant to do my tax returns I remembering him saying that I should not spend money to save money.  As you can see this lesson has fallen on stony ground and I only hope that my outlay is going to be matched by a increase in the speed of arrival.  I am relying on the fact that everything will be quicker and free, but I do not think that will necessarily be the case. 

I am testing the system by having ordered Hard Times in book form because I cannot study with the electronic version; jumping around a text is simply too cumbersome without the pages beneath my fingers!  The book should be in my hot academic little hands before the end of the week.  I remain to be convinced.

Examination tristesse is beginning to infect the school, not only with those unfortunates (staff as well as students) who have had pre-exam examinations but also those who are dreading the fell swoop of the marker’s pen in the next ten days or so.

I loathe examinations as a “setter” and “marker”; I find them so tediously reliable that there seems hardly to be a need for them.  We learn absolutely nothing about the pupils; all they do is reinforce our preconceived ideas.  They are more exercises in short-term memory use than anything else and their educational value is approaching zero.  But, by god they are important in this place and the mark out of ten assumes an almost mystical importance in the eyes of . . . whoever.

Whatever I feel about them, they will take place and will be marked and will be given back to the pupils so that some sort of fatuous mark can be attached to their names.  There will be meetings and printed sheets and everyone will be happy.  Well, almost everyone.

Today (Thursday) has been a most unsatisfactory day in school.  My teaching has been indifferent and on a couple of occasions I did little more than babysit.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be different – and at least tomorrow is a short day.  And it will be a day nearer to the arrival of my latest batch of goodies from Amazon.  And they will not be here any sooner than before I paid money to Amazon.  I think.  According to the emails that they have sent I should have the book on Monday.

And then the essay.

Lashing rain and high winds are not what I expect.  But both are wreaking havoc around the coast.  The waves are impressive, with wind whipped spray giving a professional look to the otherwise tame, domestic water movements which grace our shores.  But I would rather do without the rain.  Frankly.

This morning was supposed to be a full one but turned out to be much more civilized.  One lesson was of a collapsed class which, because of the calming influence of work on computers actually allowed me to get on with framing examination questions for the imminent series of the examinations which are going to be visited on our kids.

I managed to get the questions for the 1ESO completed in class and was able to send them off to my colleague who is collating the paper.  The next lesson was supposed to be 1BXT but the saintly head of studies took the examination invigilation for himself and left me with a free period when I got a range of other questions for 3ESO done and still had enough time to get to my next lesson in the other building without panting!

Lunch (it was a “short” day) was near the old flat and was cold langoustines to start, followed by mussels then a mixed paella, followed by apple tart washed down with red wine and Casera and iced coffee.  All for a tenner.  Sigh!  It almost took away the misery of looking at the weather.

I have now read everything on the OU course and the next two weeks will see the production of the essay and the start of the period of revision for the exam.  Time is moving on.  I have a month respite (for good behaviour) and then the second course starts!

On Saturday I have a lunch meeting with a friend and a business associate.  Oh god, I do hate investment opportunities.  But I will reserve judgement until greed takes over!

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