I haven’t updated my blog in over a year; I used to write every day, but that was when I was (really very) sick and had something to write about. And didn’t have to go to work because I was bed-bound. I think the fact that I was on all manner of very relaxing, consciousness altering pharmaceuticals (morphine anyone?) might have helped. But when the tumours started to shrink, and the scars to heal, I found I had nothing to say. And so my blog has been neglected.
But recently something happened which made me think I had a blog post left in me yet: I went back to school.
I was a teacher for many years but it’s a hard profession, and when I found myself weeping into the bookshelves at the local library in despair at the thought of going back to school, I knew it was time to leave teaching. And I did what many an English teacher before me has done: became a copy editor. After all, we are pretty much the only people left who care about things like semi-colons, gerundives, and The Oxford Comma (special insider teacher/copy editor joke: I’ve just used one). And don’t even get me started on ending sentences with prepositions. But when you are a teacher in your heart, whether you like it or not, you are a teacher. So, sighing heavily, I started teaching again this year, after nearly a decade out of the classroom.
I feel as if I have come home. Admittedly to a rather dippy hippy woo-woo country estate, filled with idiosyncratic uncles, batty aunts and whimsical cousins with names like Paisley Peace and, contrarily, Storm. Let me be clear, though: I love it. But there is no doubt that the extent of eccentricity is extraordinarily high.
The first day of term is a case in point: the teachers have a staff meeting. So far, so National Curriculum. But then we go outside and stand in a circle. Thirty teachers standing outside in a circle is not so difficult to picture. Until we had to skip – you heard me: SKIP – around trying to get in touch with our joy. And then we were instructed to break the circle and run around, embracing happiness. Picture it: 30 middle-aged teachers leaping about with their arms in the air shrieking with hysterical laughter. As I clutched my stomach, cackling and snorting (as you do) uproariously, the headmistress put her arm around me, beaming. “This wasn’t in your job description, was it?” she laughed merrily before bouncing off, arms aloft as she cavorted about, embracing the joy.
And then we went off to have faculty meetings. And we were back to being sensible again.
And when I found myself telling my friends about my day, and they all laughed at me in stunned horror, I knew that, much as I was laughing about it, I was in the right place. I would much rather be working with people who can laugh at themselves, who want to invite joy into their lives than with “normal” folks. And even though I struggled with the bit where we had to bend down and touch the earth and then reach towards the sun encircling all that warmth and imagine bringing the warmth into the classroom (mostly because one of the aforementioned tumours was in my hip and the hip replacement, though a miracle, does mean that bending down is not my favourite movement. Or maybe that’s just my age), I knew that if I were a parent, I would want my child’s teachers to bring warmth into their classroom and make my child feel loved. Because education is about so much more than just filling a child’s head with knowledge – it’s about helping them find out about who they are. And heaven knows that these days if anyone needs to know anything, they just ask The Google.
Just the other day our German exchange student came into the staffroom (and by staffroom, I mean broom cupboard) and said: “Ze children are playing soccer and guitar outside and ze teachers are laffing loudly inside. Zis is a very happy school, ja.” And I thought that that pretty much summed it up.