Back in the comforting bosom of college we learnt that some of us were already feeling the burn. The course leader asked to see the people, whom she referred to as the “wobblers”, as soon as possible. We all looked among ourselves to find those with the post-war thousand yard stare, while thanking our lucky stars our School placements had been more successful.
The group of Social Worker students who wandered into our lesson by mistake would have thought we’d all had enough, as we were in the midst of a lesson on phonics. They saw an adult woman saying words e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y to a large group of students, which we then repeated s-l-o-w-l-y back to her. At least once they’d been informed they were in the wrong place, the lecturer did not look at them sympathetically and ask “and how does that make you feel?”
There was a slightly more relaxed mood on campus, with us all having got our first assignment in. I’d handed mine in just before the deadline, asking a passerby to take a photo of me placing it in the assignment box, whilst holding a copy of the day’s newspaper (well you can’t be too careful). I was even given a little ‘Happy Birthday’ song from my fellow students, flattered as I was to receive it, at that time of the morning, ‘barbershop’ it weren’t.
We set about playing “Lecturer Bingo”. I listed the most common words the lecturers use and we crossed them off. They included the buzz words ‘holistic’ and ‘underpin’ also ‘notion’ ‘framework’ ‘cohort’ ‘pedagogy’ ‘differentiation’ and ‘plenary’. I cheated slightly by having a broader term of ‘some random boastful anecdote about one of her family members’ which our lecturer can’t seem to stop herself from recounting.
There was some learning too. For example, on a lesson on ‘E-Safety’, one lecturer told how a colleague had appeared on a social networking site, sunbathing topless. She discovered all too late that a child from her class had spotted her and surreptitiously taken a photograph. We viewed some good examples of software that encouraged children to take more care online. ‘Know it all’ featured a group of cartoon kids being targeted by mysterious emails from the ‘Evil Pirate Trojan’. Trojan is the contemporary equivalent of the seafaring paedophile from my youth, Captain Birdseye.
We watched a short film on ‘EAL (English as an Additional Language)’, in which a teacher depicted his experiences of arriving in an English School and being christened ‘Ken’, as the teacher couldn’t pronounce his real name. He mentioned a brother in a younger year group, who I hoped was not named ‘Barbie’. The teacher went on to relay a tale of his class being taught that ‘women’s brains were smaller than men’s and were less intelligent”. The guy next to me awoke suddenly “yeah I agree! I mean, look at…goldfish!” He looked around for support. Nobody dignified him with any kind of response. The lesson moved on. He returned to sleep.
The afternoon brought a surprise mental maths test, my least favourite subject. Just as the test was about to begin, a neighbouring lecturer entered to say the room had been double booked. I said with complete and utter sincerity that if this meant the test was cancelled I would now truly believe there was a God. No such luck though. It’s now half-term, thank Go…thankfully.