Tag Archives: teacher

2437.  A paradigm of pedagogy

(Pre-note: I’m not overly happy with this story because it’s too political, but I’m old and tired and will post it so as to get on with writing more murderous ones).

Evangeline was a highly qualified school teacher. She (pronoun of choice) was, to say the least, a state-of-the-art teacher. What she didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. How she taught was the paradigm of pedagogy.

Persons! Persons! she would say. We are coming into Summer Time and there’s a mnemonic to help us remember. Spring back; Fall forward. It will tell us how to reset your phones. Say it together: Spring back; Fall forward. Or is it the other way around? Who cares? The phone company will change it for you automatically without your needing to do a thing.

Now for the calendar. Thirty days has September, August, March, and December. It’s something like that but facts don’t really matter so long as you know when your birthday is.

Now I will give you a little lesson in memorizing things. Always rhyme a word in your head. You will remember the rhyme and won’t forget the thing you have to remember. For homework I want you to make a list of every naughty word you can think of. Tomorrow we will make a combined list and find words that rhyme with them. That way you will remember them. There is to be no help from parents, is that clear?

Now, finally, Cornelius found a prophylactic on the patio. Yes Warwick? What is it?

Warwick: What’s a patio?

Evangeline: Never mind about such things, Warwick. I want you to go out into the corridor and tell the white kids they can come in now. But first, would everyone move over to the other side of the room.

2436.  Language

Now Errol, said the teacher, you shouldn’t be using naughty words like that. Who taught you such language?

My father, said Errol.

Well, said the teacher, you shouldn’t use a word like that if you don’t know what it means.

I do know what it means, said Errol. It means the car won’t start.

2424.  Hopping mad

Evelyne: Good morning class. Today we are going on a nature study walk. I want you to listen very carefully to what I say about every insect, bird, and plant that we see. When we get back to the classroom we will together make a list of names of the things we have seen – this will be a help with the spelling too. Once we have a list I want you to write a description of each thing that you saw. Perhaps you might even want to draw a picture. So we do this as soon as we get back. So let’s go!

Evelyne: Oh look children! Here’s a grasshopper. I wasn’t expecting to see something like this so soon. Danny and Jack down the back, pay attention. If you’re not going to listen you can go back to the classroom. This, as I said is a grasshopper. It is… yes Abram, what is it?

Abram: Excuse me Miss, but that’s a cicada. There are many differences between cicadas and Orthopterans, but the easiest way to tell them apart is Orthopterans have huge hind legs. So this is a cicada not a grasshopper.

Evelyne: Very good Abram. You obviously know your insects. This, children, is a weed called pink shamrock. We sometimes call it sourgrass because if you eat it it’s very sour. Here children, each of you can take a stem and if you bite into it, it will be sour.

Abram: It’s also called oxalis. We have to be careful Miss because you never know if the oxalis has been sprayed with Hydrocotyle weedkiller. So we should think twice before eating it, at least that’s what my father says.

Evelyne: Very good, Abram. Now here children right on the branch over there is a common house sparrow.

Abram: That’s not a house sparrow, Miss. That’s a hedge sparrow. They look a bit the same but the house sparrow is not as dainty as the hedge sparrow. It’s also called a Dunnock.

Evelyne: Thank you, Abram. Well, class, I think it’s time to go back to the classroom now and get out your Arithmetic books straightaway.

2423.  A memorable performance

Bronwyn hired a bubble machine for her class’s stage performance. It was “Grandparents’ Day” at school. The children were to stage a little play to entertain the grandparents. When the performance was over they would have a cup of coffee made of course by the class.

One of the exciting things Bronwyn had done with the class was to make stilts. During the play all the children had mastered stilt walking and would do a little dance. It was quite safe as the stilts weren’t very high.

The curtains opened! The play began! The bubble machine began to shower the stage with glorious bubbles. There wasn’t a grandparent who didn’t ooh and aah. It was time for the stilt dancers to enter.

Oh dear! The soapy bubbles had made the floor very slippery. Three stilt walkers slipped and broke legs. Grandpa Ned went up on stage to rescue them. He slipped and did his hip in. Bronwyn rushed on stage to turn the bubble machine off. She slipped and broke her wrist.

All in all it was a very memorable performance. Coffee was cancelled.

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.

2275. Time to tarry

The late summer breeze flapped my sundress a little as I walked down the lane. I had no idea I was being watched. It had been a hot, hot summer. Autumn was beginning to set in but it was still stifling and light clothing was the order of the day.

It was the fourth day of work and I was the sole teacher in this little country school. I walked to work, taking a shortcut through a farmer’s field, down a track and over a stile and voila! I was there!

Of course I had permission to cross the farmer’s field. When I visited to seek permission the farmer wasn’t there, and nor was the farmer’s wife. Only their son was home – Nigel is his name – and he said taking a shortcut would be fine. Anyway, he was the one running the farm these days, and he was the one who would possibly sometimes bump into me on my way to work.

This was only the fourth day of school and I had already bumped into him three times! Each time it was at the stile and he was able to offer me a helping hand as I climbed over. Such a gentleman!

Today I’m leaving home a little earlier to give us time to tarry.

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.”

2252. Study the Atlas

The teacher, Mrs Freud, didn’t think much of the new boy in her class. His name was Freddie. He was tall, skinny, and would spend most of his free time looking at an atlas. He didn’t go outside to play as did all the other boys in the class.

Mrs Freud encouraged Freddie to go outside and get some exercise but he didn’t. He just looked at the atlas. And then Mrs Freud insisted, so he left the atlas open on the Uzbekistan page and went grudgingly outside.

Years later Freddie was older and had one question left to answer in a television quiz show in order to win twenty million dollars.

“What is the capital of Turkmenistan?”

“Tashkent,” said Freddie.

“No,” said the compere, “the answer is Ashgabat.”

“That is the capital of Uzbekistan, not Turkmenistan,” said Freddie.

Freddie was the one with the wires crossed. If he hadn’t been sent outside to play by Mrs Freud he would have won the twenty million. However, he’s not going to make a fuss about it because he’s married to Mrs Freud’s daughter and his six kids adore their grandmother.

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?