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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Teachers too, can daydream at the back..

School assembly. My mind on what comes next.
I have not even noticed
the heads are turned my way. I'm busy
fantasising the infamous 3C -
next period with me!
Day #2. Student teacher for six weeks.
Here to study practice:
learning how it should be done.

Suddenly, I'm back among the living.
A sea of eyes.
The only eyes I see are his, the boy's.
Beseeching me.
I've missed the play so far, am trying to
rewind. To travel back through time.
To reconstruct: the boy
was in detention yesterday.
The boy did not show up.
The boy went home. The boy
now says he spoke to me. I gave him the O.K.
I do not recognise the boy, but then
I do not know the children generally. Just
one or two. I was on duty at the gate...
I spoke to them... a few... more than a few...
couldn't pick them out... not many of them.
Saw them off the premises. Wished them Goodbye. 
That sort of thing. He might have been...
Perhaps he said: I'm off now, sir!
and I replied: Oh, lucky you!... I'm sure
I did not give him - anyone - permission 
to leave school.

They're waiting. Hushed. Expectant. All of them.
The head not so inclined. 
Let's have it then! You either did
or you did not!
Did you say this boy could do a bunk? 
I little more than mouth the words:
No, I did not have that conversation,
Sir, with anyone. It's possible that I -
I'm unprepared for what will happen next.
(The boy not so.)
That's all I need to know! --
The head triumphantly.--
The boy's hands rise and fall alternately.
The cane descends to meet each in its turn.
The boy is howling now. Now walking off,
hands on his head, as custom must require.
The head announces the last hymn:
The God of Love my Shepherd is... 

So there's best practice for you --
clearly demonstrated.


11 comments:

Mary said...

This is one of your best, Dave. What a lesson. The God of Love indeed. And how weighty to think it may have, just may have.....I won't even say it. Is corporal punishment illegal in schools today? It is here.

Brian Miller said...

the god of love takes many a form, but that is usually when we lay our hands on him...and make him more into us...this is really good man....and i think you learned them a bit that day

Daydreamertoo said...

Ouch... I remember the boys hands being caned at school. The girls used to get their backsides slapped. I know the boys tried so hard not to cry.
Amazing to think now if a teacher lifts a hand to a student they can be fired.
I agree with Mary, another stunning write.

Leovi said...

A great poem. In Spain, the government and the minister of education has taken away all teachers dream.

Ash said...

This is beautiful, Dave!

A Cuban In London said...

Oh, damn! I can understand your predicament. Beautifully narrated, if possibly difficult to remember.

Greetings from London.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

Dave,
A superb jerk of long memories for me. Witnessing an elderly nun, the headmistress,using her thick leather strap on the hands of many girls. I could not believe the vicious look in her face, which was fearsome....
My daughter is completing her first stint of teaching practice this month. A revealing experience I think.
Eileen:)

manicddaily said...

Yikes! You do this stream of consciousness in and out of the external scene tremendously well. Agh. Very vivid. Painful. Real. k.

The Elephant's Child said...

Ouch. I suspect it hurt you for longer than him. (Which is not negating his pain.)

Dave King said...

Mary
Yes, corporal punishment was made illegal in all schools in England in 1999. It had been banned a few years before that in all state schools but permitted in Public (i.e. Private - strange use of language!) Schools. My experience was from a state school some years before the ban was introduced.

Brian
I took it as a course in how not to do!

Daydreamertoo
Yes, a total change of culture, from one extreme to the other. I can't say I can recall any girls ever being caned, though. Maybe a quick slap - from a female teacher.

Leovi
Old dreams are replaced by new so quickly, though.

Ash
Thank you very much.

A Cuban in London
Yes, you are right, it was a bit difficult to remember. The details have blurred a bit - though not the actual caning. That is very vivid. This was back in 1957.

Eileen
Thanks for this. Doreen, my wife, was educated for a few years by nuns, and she recalls incidents similar to the one you describe.
Best wishes to your daughter. Hope it proves a rewarding experience for her.

manicddaily
Thank you so much. Very kind comments, much appreciated.

The Elephant's Child
Yes, I'm sure it did -- that is, I sure hope his pain didn't last as long!



Mary said...

I would have to check when it was banned in the US...much before 1999, I know. "Private schools" as well. Thank goodness, they must follow the same law in this...'private' or not.