Friday, 25 June 2010

School's Oot

There is one irritating thing about working with so much interesting stuff. Quite often, I will find something hilarious and/or terribly interesting that I wish to spend more time on, but because it is irrelevant to the current query, this brilliant gem is placed back on the shelf, slipped into a drawer or closed back up in its box and I promptly forget where I found it.

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to highlight the great finds which would otherwise just be a snigger to oneself or a thoughtful but brief conversation between two colleagues.

One such item, which I wish I could find again, is a school log book kept during the tenure of a young school teacher from South who was put in charge of a very small school and could not handle it at all.

She was horrified by the state of the room, appalled by the filthy (to her mind) children, some of whom suffered from nits whilst she was there, and unable to stand the cold Orcadian climate. The log book, which was meant to be a dry record of the attendance and general advancement of the pupils became a sort of diary that reminds one of a Victorian novel in which the ingenue heroine is forced to live with wicked, deformed relations who mean her great harm.

The young teacher spends her days huddled up in front of the fire, swaddled in blankets and blocking all the heat coming into the classroom. She faints every time she sees a dirty palm or a nit on a scalp. The logbook is liberally sprinkled with exclamation marks and great underlinings of sentences. Most entries end with the phrase " I fell into a swoon!"

Her poor pupils seem most bemused by this odd young woman who will not teach them but lurks by the fire and passes out when she sees "great beasts of lice marching up and down the partings in their hair!!!" (or so I recall).

The children are very kind to their nervously exhausted teacher and wave away her infrequent offers to take their turn at the fire. She often "falls into a swoon" at the sight of nits on the head of a child who has come up to see how she is doing.

Soon enough, the parents and school board come to hear about the situation at the schoolhouse and red pencil marks underline and circle the young woman's more hysterical and unprofessional remarks. Eventually, the teacher is removed and her small, sloping, scratchy writing is replaced with the firm hand of her replacement.

There is a school theme to this day's post as today is the last day of Summer term in Orkney. Eager little tykes trundled up Clay Loan with wheel barrows filled with shiny red apples with which to shower their darling teachers and said educators made sure to bring their special weeping handkerchiefs for the final farewells.

Us non-teachers are not at all jealous of the fact that these professionals are about to embark on six weeks of day time telly, barbecues and lying on the sun-lounger, full of gin. As those on holiday parade past our places of work, ice cream in hand, comfortable in the knowledge that they are being paid for doing so, we shall feel nothing but amiable, not-at-all bitter, pleasantness.

N.B. The photograph chosen to illustrate this post is a class from Evie school and is definitely NOT the teacher and class described above.

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