Tag Archives: school

2594. Scrawny little twerp

James was at high school and didn’t have a girlfriend as such. All the others seemed to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Maybe not all; Cora Jones didn’t seem to have a boyfriend and she was the one that James liked the most. With the school dance coming up he had to invite someone but he was too scared to ask Cora in case she said no. So he put it off.

Then with just two days left to go he had to ask someone. He just had to. He hated the thought. He’d rather have a Chemistry test and he hated Chemistry. There was no way out. He had to; he just had to; had to; had to.

Going up to Cora Jones he asked her point blank if she would like to go with him to the dance.

“Who do you think I am, you scrawny little twerp?” said Cora. “Don’t you know I’m going with Nigel Wolland? At least he’s got a personality; and looks. And at least he’s partially co-ordinated enough to dance. So no. Bad luck, loser.”

James went home and the next three days he called in sick. He was glad Cora Jones said no. Imagine having to go out with someone like her. He didn’t go to the dance. He stayed home and watched television.

2538. Dunk bucket

The school’s fund-raising gala day had one of those things where a teacher sits under a contraption that has a bucket of water above the head. People pay to throw a ball at a target and if it hits then the bucket tips over and pours water all over the teacher. Of course, everything is taken in a cheerful spirit. There’s hardly a non-nerdy pupil who is not keen to throw a bucket of water over a teacher.

When the Headmaster sat in the contraption no one paid to throw a ball at the target. Everyone hated him; which just goes to show that teachers have to be liked to have a bucket of water thrown over them. The Headmaster was annoyed. He had not brought a change of clothes and had been quite unprepared to sit under the dunk bucket, but he thought he had better do his bit. The teacher who was Head of Chemistry felt sorry for him and paid to throw a ball. The ball hit its mark and the Headmaster was utterly drenched.

No one really minded, although many pretended to, when several days later the Headmaster died of pneumonia.

2490. What a kerfuffle!

It was a terrible kerfuffle. Maisie reckoned it was a kerfuffle over nothing, but Ronald’s mother said the kerfuffle was justified. “I’ll make a kerfuffle for as long as I think it’s necessary,” she said.

The Headmaster of the school that Ronald attended agreed with Maisie; it was a kerfuffle about nothing. Ronald’s mother said she disagreed with the Headmaster, and the Headmaster said, “I suppose you’re going to make a kerfuffle over that as well.”

That didn’t stop Ronald’s mother from writing to the Minister of Education. She explained why she was making a kerfuffle and the Minister of Education labelled Ronald’s mother a domestic terrorist.

“Ha! Ha!” laughed the Headmaster. “If you hadn’t made such a kerfuffle it might not have gone kerplunk.”

2489. Guest Alien

It was terribly exciting. Sydney had never seen an alien from another planet before, and now one was coming to speak to his class at school. He had all sorts of questions to ask. He just hoped he’d be allowed to ask more than one question.

The day arrived! The hour arrived! The alien arrived!

The alien invited the children to call him Herman because his real name was unpronounceable to Earthlings and besides Herman was made up of Her and Man which was good because the planet he came from didn’t have boys and girls.

Natalie asked how come they had babies if they didn’t have boys and girls. Most in the class didn’t have much of a clue what she was asking about. Willie wanted to know what the weather was like on the planet and did they have any pollution.  Angela asked if they had horses because she had a pony called Marco and she wouldn’t want to go to the alien’s planet if they didn’t have horses. Not big horses, like race horses, but small ones like Marco. And Marco was white. And Natalie had been given it by her parents for her eighth birthday. She liked horses and her friend, Christobelle had one of those miniature horses that…

Herman couldn’t keep still. It was like he had ants in his pants. He walked up and down. Up and down.  As he passed where Sydney was sitting, Sydney did a terrible thing; he poked the alien with a sharp pencil.

Herman went POP! and that was the end of that.

2468. Chants and hakas

Story 2468 is significant enough a number to deviate into reality. When we were kids, “Two four six eight” was the grace before meals when mum and dad weren’t there:

Two four six eight, bog in, don’t wait.

Two four six eight was also the prefix to a chant at sports gatherings:

Two four six eight, who do we appreciate?

The winner’s name would then be chanted.

Another chant in that ilk was to spell the sports person’s name:

Give us an S
Give us an M
Give us an I
Give us a T
Give us an H
What have you got?
SMITH! SMITH! SMITH!

Of course that chant doesn’t work if the name is Barakat-Bentinckstokes.

My favourite chant (apart from Let’s go Brandon) requires a bit of explaining:

The High School I went to (and also taught at for a decade) was situated in the countryside. It was a large all-boys boarding school catering mainly at the time to sons of isolated farming families throughout the country. Hence the school itself was attached to a farm. The biggest (and oldest) annual athletics occasion was called the McEvedy Shield. Four major all-boys schools met to compete in some large stadium. The entire roll of each school would attend. Chants and hakas abounded. A haka is a traditional Maori challenge and each school in New Zealand has its own. The video shows two opposing high school teams challenging each other before a rugby match. (Incidentally, a “College” in New Zealand is the same as a High School).


At the McEvedy Shield around 2 o’clock the three opposing schools would unite and begin chanting at my school:

Go home! Milking time! Go home! Milking time!

I always found the Milking Time Chant very entertaining, and if anything it highlighted the positive camaraderie between the four competitive schools.

Perhaps you have a favourite chant?

2383. Apprenticeships

I never liked secondary school much – except for the sports. I had to sit through all these classes without understanding a word; General Science, Mathematics, History, English Literature. I even had to learn Spanish for half a semester until they realized that Spanish was my first language and who needs to learn how to say everything the wrong way from a teacher who doesn’t know a cañon from a cannon.

Let’s face it; I only took Chemistry because Lucy-Sue was in the class. Lucy-Sue was no good at Chemistry either, so I figured I could make her feel better about it by commiserating with her. It didn’t work back then, and she told me to “shove it” and took off with Malcolm MacAnally who had “anal” in his name for a reason.

Anyway, as soon as I was allowed to I left school and got a job working for a builder. I liked that and he gave me an apprenticeship provided I went to night school and took Mathematics. Well, that Mathematics was different from the stuff they taught you at school. This Mathematics was about how much gasoline you needed to buy if you were going to run a generator that used so much blah blah blah when you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere. All that was interesting, and a lot more useful to me than x2=a2+b2 – which I never figured out what it meant.

These days I own the building company. I was invited by the local school to come and speak to the kids during their “Vocations Week”. I was to talk about being a builder. I did that, but they didn’t like the bit where I said that if you want to be a builder don’t waste your time trying to get an education higher than you need. They banned me from coming to speak again because of that. It was against “standards”.

Now they’re asking for donations for a new gymnasium. I thought about buying one for them (my kids go to that school) but my wife said they can “shove it”, so I’m doing that. Lucy-Sue is usually right. In the meantime, I seem to be employing every kid who has got kicked out of the school for “misbehaviour” of one sort or another.  I find they’re the best workers and it doesn’t hurt to give them a chance.

Story 838: Dear Miss Munyard

This is the fifth day of seven days in which an earlier story is repeated. Today it is Story 838: “Dear Miss Munyard”. It was first posted on 26 January 2016.

Miss Munyard, although she was called May by her colleagues, was in charge of the little children new to the school. She got the children to form a circle holding hands. They danced around singing:

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with the carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life as
Three blind mice?

Dear Miss Munyard,
I was amazed when Nola came home singing Three Blind Mice. The method of numeracy you apparently espouse has no bearing whatsoever on the modern mathematics that should be taught. Three mice is definitive. It’s the working out of the problem that’s important; not the answer. There could have been ten mice. It wouldn’t have mattered.
Zita Codfish

Dear Miss Munyard,
Andrew came home having had bad and dated attitudes towards blindness shoved down his throat. It’s not the way he has been brought up. Making fun of blindness while dancing around in circles is hardly the value we’re trying to instil in our young people.
Maureen and Petros Stifleburg

Dear Miss Munyard,
It’s pedagogical methods such as yours that enhance attitudes toward the world’s creatures that ultimately cause extinction. There’s nothing wrong with mice. People have them as pets. Other people trap them cruelly, or even cut off, as the rhyme Nigel came home singing said, their tails. These attitudes foster violence and lack of caring for our planet. His father gave him a good beating to try and instil better values into him than the ones you promote.
Lorna Bridgewater

Dear Ms Munyard,
That’s right, have the unnamed woman in the ditty Carolynne came home singing, have her stand at the sink and get her identity from her husband. She’s just a “farmer’s wife”. No wonder we haven’t moved on from the emancipation of the 19th century. Try and drag yourself into the 21st century. Or better still; throw yourself under a race horse and liberate a few people.
Melinda Beveridge

Dear May,
Jonathan came home from school on a high. He loves the songs you teach. He especially loved the one about the three blind mice. You certainly know how to relate to children. Jonathan worships you! I wondered if you were free again next Saturday evening?
Harry Wattleworth

2347. Teacher-Pupil

Teacher: And so Class, use the word “rappel” in a sentence. Johnny, you go first.

Johnny: The teacher wanted us to use the word “rappel” in a sentence.

Teacher: Yes, go ahead.

Johnny: I just have.

Teacher: No you didn’t.

Johnny: Yes I did. The teacher wanted us to use the word RAPPEL in a sentence.

Teacher: That’s not what I asked.

Johnny: But it’s what you said.

Teacher: I’ve had enough of this nonsense. For homework tonight say how you feel about Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The next morning Johnny handed the teacher a bunch of flowers.

Teacher: That’s not what I asked.

Johnny: But it’s what you said.

Johnny failed the subject. That was way back. These days Johnny lives a creative, flourishing life. The teacher’s dead. The rest of the class are sitting out life, waiting for it to start happening.

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.