Sunday, 24 October 2010


“So, does the role of grammar raise attainment in writing at Key stage 3?” I have asked myself this question over and over again. I have posed the question to many friends, many of the friends being teachers who, rather worryingly answered, “Dunno. Kinda”. Then again, as they are teachers, they are all too knackered at the end of the day to actively advise me on my next assignment.
“Have you no opinion on this matter?”, I have demanded.
“You know which school I work at Alice. Do you honestly think I lose sleep worrying whether the kids know how to construct a complex sentence? I’m just glad that 8x turn up.” I tried another source.
“S’pose. Depends”. For heaven’s sake, depends on what?
“Well, what’s your opinion?”, asked Hubby, doing his best to engender interest.
“It doesn’t matter what my opinion is. I have to write a review of already published, learned work on the subject and what those scholars think”.
“And, what do they think?”, he pursued. God bless him, he was trying to sound attentive but I was interrupting the 9 o’clock news.
“Well, that’s the point. I really don’t know; one report suggests the formal teaching of grammar is paramount, another, that it is as inherent as learning to walk. I’m going round in circles and I have three thousand words to write on the subject.”
“Best crack on then love”. And that was the end of his indulging me.
I rang Bianca, fellow PGCE colleague, who terrified me by quoting all sorts of references that she has downloaded, highlighted and used in her already written, 1,800 words.
“How do you make sense of all that stuff”, I asked, quite literally grasping at the roots of my hair.
“Read it all last week mate. It’s been churning around for a while”, she replied. Utterly dejected, I rang Mags.
“Bloody hell. They are all such whizz kids around me”, I wailed, “They may look blonde and fluffy but when push comes to shove they have the upper hand”.
“Well, you know why that is?”
“No, why?” I asked.
“Because they haven’t done any pushing and shoving have they? How many of these bright young things have had their brains and bodies addled by raising four kids? How many of them look knackered in the morning, not because they’ve been up half the night breast feeding or dealing with vomit or bad dreams but because they’ve spent far too long ‘pulling’ at the student union bar?”
“I guess you’re right”, I said, “Still doesn’t help me with this bloody essay”.
I returned to my study to pore over ever more research on the subject. They were all inconclusive and finally I climbed the stairs to bed in abject defeat.
I arrived at Uni the following morning to a packed timetable. We spent hours in large groups discussing assessments. It was mind-numbingly tedious. My new found friends and I were thrilled when lunchtime arrived and we could muster together and groan.
“No wonder kids can’t stand school”, I said, “It’s all so serious. What wouldn’t you give for a moment of levity?” Prophetic words. We finished our lunches, drained our coffees and re-joined our carrousels, a word, up until now, that has been synonymous with all the fun of the fair, candy floss and a gaudily painted, wooden horse called Phyllis. Nowadays it indicates which groups I must join and which classroom I will find them in.
A few of my friends and I returned to our appropriate carousel, where we were given a lecture on inclusion and how terribly important it is that we embrace every child, for as we all now and, as the previous government kept reminding us, whether little delinquents or not, every child matters and we must be delighted to include them in our classes. To hit this point home, we were sent to yet another room to learn to juggle, the end product demonstrating, I assume, how awful it is when one feels they can’t do something as well as one’s peers. We regrouped 15 minutes later to evaluate our experience. How had we felt if we hadn’t succeeded? Did we feel marginalised? Did we feel excluded? None of us felt any of those things. We’d had just had fun. None of us cared a jot whether we were about to join Billy Smarts circus or not.
The tutor then asked, “Do you think you might have done better if you’d had bigger balls to play with?”. It was instinctive. Call me childish, call me puerile, but I challenge anyone not to have let out a schoolboy guffaw. I most certainly did.
“Is someone being silly?” asked the tutor, sharply. I went rigid and tried to suppress any more giggles.
“I think you should leave this room until you have calmed down”, the tutor instructed. There was a deathly silence as I got up from my chair, left the classroom and went to stand in the corridor. No more giggles were released and the irony of having been excluded from a lecture on inclusion didn’t escape me either.

1 comment:

DL said...

Oh dear!

I've often wondered, when glancing at blogs, is this for real?

I fear that this one is for real.

We come across it also with our fostering: right-on, earnest, well-meaning public servants, who actually are so often "right-off" if the truth were known.