A PERFECT SCHOOL
The question I fear most, “What did you do before you retired?”
I duck the answer by mumbling “Norfolk County Council” -at least they paid my salary. Saying “teacher” is fatal. Everyone is an expert and able at great length to tell me what is wrong with education/schools/teachers and so lose me valuable drinking time.
There was one occasion, however, when I found myself trapped. I had just delivered an invited talk to an especially dedicated Daily Mail- reading Round Table group. Question time was slowly lurching towards “The trouble with schools today is…” when I decided to do what I always do in such circumstances to escape. I told them a story…
it or not, there was once an absolutely perfect secondary school.
Nobody was ever late and everyone turned up with gleaming white shirts/blouses; pressed trousers/skirts; highly polished shoes; ties in double Windsor knots; blazers newly brushed with brass buttons smelling of “Dura Glit.”
They talked quietly to each other in the playground until a whistle sounded. At that point they automatically formed straight lines and silently made their way into Assembly. The head teacher appeared, a hymn was sung, a prayer said and his address was listened to with rapt attention.
It was then off to registration - really superfluous as nobody was ever absent and at the sound of a bell away to first lesson. All homework was complete and done to everyone’s best ability. Misbehaviour being unknown, the lesson was conducted in silence with pupils copying down the teacher’s notes that would be learned off virtually by heart. After fifteen years of such teaching, each would have secured enough examination passes to enter the parent-funded university of their choice.
There was only one thing to destroy this ideal picture. Pupils, staff, the head teacher, WERE ALL ROBOTS!
THEN IT HAPPENED.
One day a new robot arrived but five minutes late. His shirt looked distinctively grubby; the knees of his trousers, like his shoes were mud spattered; the knot of his tie was loose and defiantly twisted behind his right ear; his blazer lapels bore the remains of a too hastily eaten breakfast and horror of horrors, the brass buttons were tarnished.
Instead of a satchel he carried a football that he booted into the playground, following it with so much enthusiasm he did not hear the whistle. Eventually picking it up and stowing it under his arm followed everyone into assembly but not before taking a forbidden toilet break. He emerged smelling suspiciously of tobacco smoke before elbowing his way to a seat at the back of the hall.
Pulling the pony tail of the girl sitting in front of him he was heard to say that the back of her hea looked like a horse’s arse. He ignored both hymn and prayers before ruining the climax of the head teacher’s story by letting a loud, sonorous fart.
So onto his form room for registration. His name had to be called three times but not before being reprimanded for scratching his private parts too energetically.
First lesson was not a howling success…“Somebody’s nicked my pen Miss. Honest Miss!” The exercise books he had brought from his last school, rolled up in his pocket were dog eared, scribbled upon and bore signs of his undying support for Millwall football club.
In the second lesson- Computer Studies, he was caught watching a porn site that was considered to have been child proof.
His break was spent firstly kicking his football against a wall, then attempting to chat up one of the girls before disappearing behind the bike sheds where his presence was marked only by a rising spiral of cigarette smoke.
By afternoon break the head summoned an emergency staff meeting. THE NEW ROBOT HAD TO GO.
They would have been prepared to overlook his misbehaviour, but not something much worse. He asked non-stop questions. As the English teacher put it…"he wants to know the what’s, the why’s, the when’s, the how’s, the when’s, the who’s of everything! This is something totally against the educational beliefs of this schoo"l.
Finding his staff united on this issue, the head felt he had no alternative but to call an impromtu school assembly.
Standing before the serried ranks of staff and pupils, he called the new robot up onto the stage and announced his intention of expelling him.
Then to everyone’s surprise, a small door in the rear of the robot swung open and who should jump out but a small human boy.
He looked round at the head, the staff and all the pupils, and he laughed and he laughed and he laughed!