Schools Out For Summer

By Suzanne Manners

Well, the children have gone, the corridors are bare and it’s time to prepare for some serious rest and recuperation.

The last few weeks have been unbearably hot (no air conditioning and 21 sweaty bodies crammed into a small classroom) grumpiness has ruled the day (mine and the children’s) and learning has been slow. We have painted, printed and participated in productions galore (my favourite being the one that involved reception children dressed as aliens). We have written stories, reports, explanations, instructions and poems. Numbers have been crunched, sequenced and partitioned. Maps have been read, songs murdered and Romans reincarnated in assemblies. A school year is many and varied but runs smoothly or not so smoothly along the same pathways determined by a small group of ministers sequestered in an office somewhere in London. Time moves inexorably from Nativity to Harvest Festival; from Easter bonnets to sports day. The curriculum the same year after year; ancient Egypt in year 4, the Romans or castles in year 3 and revision for SATs in year 6, year after year after year. So what makes teaching such an interesting and often surprising profession? I hear you ask (Or is that the shrill voice in my head again). The children of course; no two are ever the same even though characteristics exist which make most children identifiable and familiar enough to exert similar strategies for behaviour management, year after year, which is just as well, because a class full of children who do not respond to stickers would be a disaster (have you read Lord of the Flies? Seriously most groups of children are only ever a hair’s breadth away from that scenario).

Anyway, needless to say the summer holidays are very welcome and I relish the time I will be able to spend writing, reading and painting, not to mention all the joys of the beach, pool and tapas bars. I may moan about my job, but at least I have one and ultimately the children make it all worthwhile and the long summer holidays don’t hurt either.

As an aside; yesterday I played some old YouTube videos of The Clash to my class. It was amusing to watch as these young children screwed up their faces and clasped their hands over their ears in the very same way my mother and father did the first time they heard ‘Rock the Kasbah’. I ignored the cries of “play Cheryl Cole miss” or “put Justin Beiber on miss” and chuckled to myself as I thought about the circularity of life and the creeping mediocrity of present day music, then I chastised myself for that thought, remembering my mother’s story of her own mother’s shock when she first heard ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and no doubt her mother’s shock on hearing Frank Sinatra sing ‘My Way’ as he flashed his ‘ole blue eyes into the camera. However what is disturbing is that young people find the Clash difficult to listen to yet happily tune into Cheryl Cole (no offence but not exactly cutting edge and dangerous). So where is the ‘turn that racket off’ music for today’s teenage rebellion?

Thankfully my son loves the Clash, The Stones, The Ruts and Nirvana and has never expressed a desire to upload anything by Justin Beiber; small mercies eh?

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