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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Teachers Part 11

That’s the trouble with teachers. They get a bee in their bonnet and feel driven to share it with the one captive audience they have… until a bell rings and returns us to sanity. What was the man doing, talking about sex drives to a bunch of fourteen-year-old boys? There were girls in the class, too, but memory is sexist. I cannot remember what they drew or what they thought of it. I probably assumed they didn’t have sex drives. It was a different world.

But some things don’t change. Teachers and their incessant urge to pass on what astounds them and so must astound everyone else.

Following my MA, I did a one year teaching course in Aberystwyth. We had one lecturer who extolled the virtue of putting small children in cupboards, and get them to imagine they were in a witch’s cave. Interesting case for the defence. There were two other lecturers called Dr. Trot and Dr. Gallop. Gallop and Trot. University College Aberystwyth must have had an agenda. Had a Mr Canter applied for a job he’d have been hired, irrespective of his qualifications.

Dr. Gallop was a dark intense man. Dr Trot was the dreamer, also profoundly deaf. His hearing aids were bigger than his ears. One wet October morning he stood on the podium. His gaze swept the auditorium. “One day,” he said. “We shall be teaching in Space.”

Better than cupboards, I thought. Less risk.

“And what then?”

Again his gaze swept the auditorium, but no answer came. We knew he would tell us.
“How will our educational system cope? Think of it!” His voice rose, slipping into Welsh preacher mode. “The teacher on, say, a passenger ship to one of the moons of Jupiter will come back older than his own children, to a wife in her dotage!”
The lecture was on child development, but you never knew with Dr. Trot.

I did my teaching practise in Milford Haven. Milford Central, I think the school was called. Dr. Trot was my supervisor. He was responsible for observing me in class.
“I’ll be as unobtrusive as possible,” he promised. “Nothing worse than distracting a class.

The class looked forward to his visits.

First the door would open slowly, an inch or two, and a giant hearing aid came into sight, then an ear. The class stared in rapt and silent attention A moment later the door would open a little wider and an arm, then a shoulder materialised, followed by the rest of the body. Thirty pairs of eyes followed his progress as he slid along the wall like a limpet on speed. Finally he sat on a chair at the very back of the class, giving me a conspiratorial wink, as if to say ‘mission accomplished.’ There were moments when I wished he was on a space ship to one of the moons of Jupiter, even if he did come back younger than me.

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