Tag Archives: school

2300. Pantomime Season

As has become the norm on this blog, a round number (in this case Story 2300) calls not for a story as such but a conversation about something taken from real life.

Since we are nearing the feast of Christmas I thought I’d tell what I used to do once upon a time when I had a bit more energy than I have today.

The last ten years or so of my teaching were at a mixed sexes high school. The thirty or so years teaching before that were in all boys’ high schools. I think New Zealand has a higher percentage of single sex schools than some other parts of the globe. The New Zealand School year goes from early February until early December. The Summer Break is December-January. It follows then that Christmas and New Year fall in the longest school break.

It used to be that secondary schools finished a week or so earlier than the primary schools. Every year I would write a Christmas Pantomime about an hour long. I would then ask for volunteers from the students and between 12 and 20 would be about the right number. We had wonderful painted sets (we used most of the same every year!) and the students had only a few days to learn the script and rehearse the pantomime.

In the meantime I had written to every primary school in the Province and given times of performances. It would be 50 cents entry per child – and “You know the ones who can’t afford it so just let them in!” There would be three performances per day – one at 10 am, one at midday, and one at 2 pm. They would have to book by phone. On top of that, they were welcome to use the expansive school grounds for picnics or sports or whatever.

Whole schools would come, often paid for by a school’s Board of Governors as “an end of year treat”. The auditorium held around 700 and it was full for each of the 15 performances.

Local businesses donated prizes for a colouring-in event which had the theme of the pantomime that year.

Buses would arrive in droves. For the week there were kids all over the place! And they were allowed to make as much noise during a performance as they wished – shouting at the Dame, and calling out at the Wicked Witch, and applauding the Prince and Princess. Each performance was always a great success.

We did this for ten years. Secondary School education lasted 5 years; that meant that an actor at the end of his time at school had done 75 pantomime performances. They were masters at controlling a crowd! Throughout the school year, for theatre performances, it was a breeze. They already had a huge experience. That is why, I think, that at inter-secondary school Drama Festivals our performances always stood out, and we were even selected to represent New Zealand at International Festivals.

The waiting list to come to that school was enormous – almost every primary school boy in the Province wanted to come to the secondary school that did the pantomimes!

Oh! And I forgot the most important thing. At the end of the week the student actors would divide the spoils. It was always a healthy sum. It was after all their “holiday job”.

Unfortunately I have only one photo of the ten years! It is the Big Bad Wolf in the pantomime called “The Horse’s Wedding”.

2297. Choices

My boss had given his orders. I knew what he was asking was illegal if not downright immoral. All I could do was choose between getting sacked or getting caught.

I can’t tell you what it was, but I chose to keep my job. All I can say is that I work in a school, and when the bus carrying protesting parents went over a cliff I knew my employment was safe. At least for the time being.

2262.  The world I woke to

Some of the parents with more liberated ideas were furious with their children’s school policy.  Halloween and Thanksgiving were fast approaching and the school had organized a Pumpkin Festival. In reality it was a pumpkin competition; whoever grew the biggest pumpkin would win a pair of rather expensive snow boots.

“That’s right,” swore parent Kim Buckwell, “fill the children with an ugly competitive spirit.”

There were two pairs of snow boots awaiting the competition; both suitable for either a girl or a boy. In the interest of equity the school decided one pair should go to the girl who grew the biggest pumpkin and one to the boy who grew the biggest pumpkin.

Now Joseph had seen Nigel’s pumpkin. It was huge. There was no beating it. Joseph’s pumpkin was big but not as big as Nigel’s. Joseph’s parents concurred with his decision; he would call himself Josephine, tie the hair into a ponytail, and change a pronoun or two. Having done that he entered his hefty pumpkin into the girls’ section of the competition.

The girls were horrified. Maizie declared that her pumpkin was big but nowhere near as big as Josephine’s. “I would win the snow boots if that horrid boy hadn’t turned into a girl,” said Maizie.

The judges agreed with Maizie. Nigel won the boys’ section and Maizie won the girls’ section. Josephine was disqualified. It was grossly unfair.

“It was like a kick in the balls,” said Josephine.

2258. Story Homework

Nina was stuck. Her teacher had set homework and it was to write a one-page story about anything. Nina couldn’t think of anything. It would have been a lot easier if the teacher had been more specific. If the teacher had said “Write a story about elephants” at least there would be a starting point.

Or the teacher could have said “Write a story about your favourite aunt” or “Write a story about a family picnic”. But no! The teacher had said to write about anything. Nina’s mind went blank. Did she have writer’s block?

The school day dawned. Nina hadn’t written a word. She was getting desperate. The school bus would leave in about half an hour. Nina sat at the kitchen table and began to write:

Once upon a time my favourite aunt, Matilda, gathered her family around and announced they were all going on a picnic. Such excitement! Off they went to the park. While they were there sitting on rugs and enjoying their lettuce and cucumber sandwiches three elephants escaped from a nearby circus…

On and on Nina’s story went. Such tragedy! Such passion! Such spectacle! Nina finished just in time to catch the bus.

“Dear me,” said the teacher. “I asked for a one-page story and you have written seven. You must learn to have fewer ideas.”

2253. Academia

Welcome to you’re final math exam of the acedemic yeah following a second yeah of lookdown’s and home educashun. Its wonderfooll to think that despite the trial’s and tribulation’s of these time’s the student’s of this world can hold their head’s high. Congratolashun’s on reaching doctoral standard’s in our education system. If you are having trouble reeding this get your grandmother to read it for you out llowd if you’re mother cant read.

There is only one question for yous to answer. Here it is!!!!!

Do you prefer Charlote Bromte or Jane Austains novels? Typ your answer below and state why you think these two “persons” never mentioned much about slave owners given the times in which they were riting. And did the characters identify their sexual preferences? Pleaze note that you only need to anser this question if you have read the books – otherwise leave the space below blank. When you are dune don’t forget to press SEND!!!!!!!!!

2218. The chemist

Have you heard of the communist tyrant responsible for millions of deaths?  He was a chemist and at some stage, after lurking anonymously in the background of power, was able to poison three quarters of the population. No one knew who he was but it was believed that the person was still alive and perhaps living in luxury.

Which brings me to a simpler scene: an ordinary chemistry class at school. Young Harry has asked his chemistry teacher a simple question. Ms Braxton was a tyrannical chemistry teacher. She was to be feared. Not one of her pupils learnt Chemistry out of love; they learnt it out of fear. Ms Braxton had been teaching Chemistry for so long that several generations had passed through the school despising Chemistry. Rumour had it that she knew who the tyrannical communist chemist was; perhaps even she had taught the murderous persecutor.

Young Harry’s question was simply this: Why does bread go brown when it is toasted? Ms Braxton had explained that the starch under heat reflected light to the right (“dextra” was the Latin word for “right” so the brown bit was called dextrin). That made the toast look brown. It’s why the crust on a loaf of bread is brown.

Ms Braxton certainly knew her stuff. She was very learned. She lived alone in a very big house and drove a very expensive car. The question young Harry (and most of the impressionable teenagers in the class) really wanted to ask was “How come you’re so rich?” In fact, he did ask her. She got very angry and told him to mind his own business. Her reaction was certainly proof of something don’t you think?

2197. The treehouse

It wasn’t much fun being the only boy in a family with seven girls. For starters, the house had only one bathroom. You’d think after twelve years that Chad would be used to it. He wasn’t.

Chad decided to build himself a treehouse in an old sycamore at the back of the property. That way he could escape with his friends and have his own space.

What a magnificent treehouse it was! It could be accessed only by climbing a rope. That was something some of his sisters wouldn’t be seen dead doing.

One day he came home with two of his friends from school and there was a ladder propped up against the tree. Inside the treehouse was a pink plastic tea set.

Even though Chad had been taught at school that there was no difference these days between girls and boys, the treehouse trapdoor soon had a padlock on it

2165. Teacher’s admonition

Madam, your little boy is a total prick. He pulls the plaits of little girls and thinks it funny. He answers me back. He pokes out his tongue. All in all he’s a spoilt brat. If they hadn’t banned it I’d give him a good whipping just to knock him into shape.

Just the other day I saw him cheat by copying another little boy’s arithmetic homework. He should have done the work at home. That’s why it’s called “Homework”. Mind you, knowing your background I’d imagine there wouldn’t be much of a home life. I can see why you can’t get anyone to help him as he’s such an ill-disciplined rude boy.

Some people are helpless parents – that’s if you are the parent – he doesn’t look much like you – and as far as helpless parents go you’ve got as much parenting skills as a headless aardvark. Tidy up your act, Madam. Instil some discipline into the little shit.

I’d kick him out of my class if he wasn’t the heir to the throne.

2126. Story writing

Arnie’s teacher set the class a creative writing assignment: Write a four page story about writing a story. Here is Arnie’s effort:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

Jack wrote a story about writing a story. It started like this:

(This went on for four pages. The teacher was unimpressed. In the long run it didn’t matter because Arnie was expelled from school for not having his main character wear a mask).

2072. Strum strum

Ronald was a school teacher. He taught little kids (I won’t give the Year because it differs from country to country). He occasionally played the guitar while the kids sang Michael Row Your Boat Ashore and stuff like that. The kids were small enough to pretend to row boats in the classroom and jump up and down like waves and dive about like dolphins.

Ronald liked to play the guitar to relax. When he came home from a long day at school he would sit at the back of his garden and strum away. He wasn’t God’s gift to the musical world, but he was good enough.

The school lacked a music teacher and no other teacher was particularly musically inclined. Could perhaps Ronald spend time going from classroom to classroom to teach the music element of the curriculum? He did that, at first enthusiastically, and then it became a little humdrum like any other job. He also volunteered to be the musical director of the annual production and he took the choir through its paces.

When he went home after a busy day at school, Ronald never went to the back of his garden to play the guitar. The guitar was a job. He had lost all interest in playing it.