Another tale from my teaching days. It dates back to the late 80s or early 90s when, in an attempt to make it easier to become a teacher, the government decided anyone with a degree could be employed and they could learn on the job for a year.
Sadly they never rolled this idea out into other areas, I always fancied a crack at brain surgery (ironically enough). Anyway this particular year we ended up employing Will Lines (name changed). A former ‘captain of industry ‘ he had an opinion on everything and a very high opinion of himself. He had trained at another local school, which I’ll call Hillview. The minutes of our meetings were full of comments from him starting “at Hillview they …” followed by a statement praising Hillview or criticising our school or often both. One particular bee in his bonnet was Hillview’s extensive set of resources, worksheets linked to every topic, which he could use and save time by not having to write his own or see if a colleague had something suitable. He was reluctant to accept the Head of Faculty’ point that such a system took a while to set up and that for now we’d try having folders where we could leave a copy of any sheet we created. It didn’t work: either the sheet was not the right degree of difficulty, or it used the wrong method, etc, etc.
However this wasn’t his “greatest” moment. That was something he achieved in another meeting with to following statement.
“Of course as a good parent I made sure my children got a good education by sending them to a private school.”
How insulted was I? Let me count the ways.
1. We were teaching in a co-educational all-ability state school. By implication we were not providing a ‘good education’
2. By further implication we as individual teachers were not providing a good education.
3. Having attended a state school by his inference I had not received a good education.
4. My parents, who had been content to send me to the local school, where I had been in the selective stream, were bad parents for not sending me to a private school.
I was not happy. I was so not happy without a word I stood up, left the room and strode down the corridor. There I met an empty, black plastic dustbin. Off the top of my head as it’s not an Olympic event, I do not know the world record for kicking an empty, black plastic dustbin but I must have challenged the British record as I channeled every bit of anger this pompous, know-it-all, git, with an opinion of himself so over-inflated he was in danger of popping. I may well have screamed a very rude word to describe him as I kicked the bin, like a tennis player grunting as they seek maximum effort.
The empty, black plastic dustbin soared majestically through the air, until it remembered how intrinsically un-aerodynamic it was, when it flopped and fell to the ground where it bobbled along the corridor. I completed my circuit of the quadrangle and as wordlessly as I had left, I took my seat again. Will was just beginning a sentence “at Hillview they…”
Will left at the end of the year, for a job at his beloved Hillview. He was last heard of by us when we heard on the grapevine that he was in trouble for refusing to attend the weekly worksheet writing meeting where they created and filed the resources of which he was so enamoured. He wasn’t going to use his valuable time writing worksheets for other people. Oh how we laughed, when the news was relayed to us.
Kicking the empty, black plastic bin, has not been made an Olympic event, so we will never know if I could have challenged for a medal.