The computer room incident
"So, Mum, let’s see if I have got this right. You were going to give it back to him?"
"Yes, I said so didn’t I?"
"And you didn’t know if it was real or fake?"
"Yes, I just said so."
"I can’t believe you did that."
"Well I didn’t really know. How could I? I’ve only ever seen one on television or in a newspaper."
"But didn’t you think to ask someone and tell him you would give it back to him at the end of the day?"
"I never thought of that. I suppose I should have since most of my students come from an inner city, all very streetwise and certainly could have owned one. To be honest I wasn’t thinking."
"No you can’t have been. So tell me, how on earth did it come to be in your possession anyway?"
"Well, as you know I don’t like classrooms full of computers. I much prefer my chemistry laboratory with all the Bunsen burners, glassware and the periodic table. I can never understand why the assignments must be typed up – what’s wrong with hand-written work, as in my day? Still must move with the times, I suppose, and at least they are more legible and easier to mark.
"I was sitting waiting for them to arrive when the door burst open and they all piled in laughing and chatting. That annoyed me to start with. They behave more like school kids than college students.
"I told them to take their seats quickly, only two per machine, to stop talking and to get their work out. I noticed that four of them were huddling together obviously looking at something. I went over and asked them what they had there that was so interesting. I took the small device from his hand and told him I was confiscating it until the end of the lesson and placed it in a desk drawer."
"Yes, yes and then what happened?"
"They settled down, and I must admit I did keep looking in the desk drawer. I kept wondering if it could be real. All of a sudden it was the end of the lesson and he was asking me if he could have it back. I took it out of the draw and hesitated."
"I can’t believe you were even thinking of giving it back to him."
"Well I had never seen a real gun before, and after all, it was his!"
"Please tell me you didn’t?"
"No. I told him I was giving it to my head of department. He could deal with it."
A difficult lesson
I keep looking at the door. They will be here in a minute. Now, have I got everything? Yes. My notes, which I have to say are meticulous, and all the overhead transparencies are very clear and precise. I did think about using a magnet board but I quickly dismissed that idea. The students do like using it but I think it could cause chaos with this topic. I am not sure how I am going to cope. They can probably teach me a thing or two. The door opens and I look at my watch. It is too early. They can’t be that keen surely?
"Oh, hi Frank. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I came to give you a few words of support. I know you don’t really like teaching biology, but, unfortunately, being new to the college, I had to put it on your timetable. Sorry."
"That’s okay I know you had no choice. Most of the topics in the syllabus are fine – it’s just this one."
"Yes, I can understand that. Sixteen year-old hormonal boys are not the easiest to teach at the best of times. But this topic, well, that’s why I came to see you were okay and see if you need any help, and wish you luck. But I can see you’re well prepared. I think not using the magnet board was very wise."
"Yes, can you imagine Frank, the resulting chaos sticking magnets on a very large chart? I have had a brilliant idea, though. There’s one boy in the class, very likeable, but also very mouthy."
"I know the one you mean."
"Well my idea revolves around him."
"Okay, let me know how it goes. Good luck."
The door opens and they all push past Frank as he leaves.
"Hi miss, we’re really looking forward to this lesson."
"I expect you are. Come on, quieten down and get your books out."
I can feel their eyes on me in anticipation and can feel them getting ready to give me a hard time. But I keep my nerve. I look directly at this boy.
"Now, I am sure that you know all about sexual reproduction, so perhaps you would like to tell the class how babies are conceived."
He is stunned, as are the rest of the class. He shifts in his chair. I look around the room and they’re all sitting in complete silence looking down at their books. This is the quietest they have ever been. Not even a titter. I have cracked it. I deliver my lesson and none of them even attempts to ask a question. Now there is just the class on contraception and venereal diseases to cope with.
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