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Mid-week reverie

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This morning, I stood in the rain chortling merrily as I waved off the entire management team. I alone remain to rule supreme over this, my kingdom. Bliss! They have all – poor sods – gone off to be the heavies and the wardens at that incomparable nightmare that is Summer School. Why anyone would elect to have anything to do with it is and will remain staggeringly incomprehensible to me. I was dragooned (read ‘lashed and beaten’) into doing it for four years and during that time I lost all sense of perspective, rationality and any shred of a sense of humour. I lived on vast quantities of anti-psychotic drugs and needed extensive hours in anger management counselling in order to function at some sort of acceptable level of competence during those fraught weeks (otherwise I WOULD have thrown that dictionary at whatsername). I loathe teeangers – and I know that makes me a bad person, but I don’t care. It is not a law that “thou shalt like teenagers.” Well not last time I looked, anyway. When I was “in charge” of the Bedlam that is any summer school, I used to spend five days before the shrieking, wailing, hideous hordes descended, training the teaching staff, which, I believe, for summer schools is something of a rarity. I did this so that I would have staunch allies and we could form an impenetrable, united front against the children and anyone else who threatened our supremacy. We got to grips with the resources, the vagaries of the photocopier and IWBs; we found out where our classrooms (and all the local pubs) were and practised the paperwork and prepared the first week’s lessons. We found out where EVERYTHING was, so that we ALWAYS had the upperhand. We knew how to lock doors, switch on fire alarms, get from the classroom block to the computer suite without being seen. We knew where the smoking areas were, where the holes in the hedges were, where the security would fail. We made friends with everyone in the town and got names and mobile numbers. We had it all sorted. Then the kids would arrive and spoil everything. Never once did any of them help me to rethink my opinion of teenagers.

This year I get to stay here with the sane, balanced, funny, charming, intelligent grown-ups at the adult centre. I am alternately sobbing with relief and singing for joy. It’s quiet and calm and orderly and manageable. The students have bogged off to Warwick for the evening to “talk to real people” and sample English beer, which for some reason remains a subject of much mirth and not a few raised eyebrows amongst our continental cousins. But am I worried? Not a jot! I’m thinking of those poor sods unpacking boxes and boxes of files and computers, drawing up room allocation and class lists, labelling classrooms and assigning House Groups, putting up signs and stacking resources, counting desks and chairs and sorting out sports equipment, setting up office space and pocket money envelopes, making name tags and laminating everything that doesn’t move. They’ll be answering dozens of calls about flights and transfers and dear little Anastasia’s medication and dietary needs, fending off frantic parents who want to stay with their children for the duration, dealing with teachers and activity organisers who have no money, have forgotten when they start or who they are working for or indeed where they are, and many have decided not to come or will turn up covered in tattoos, or clutching a ukelele and an accordion, or massively drunk.

A slow smile creeps up on me. Yes indeed, another glass of chilled white, if you don’t mind. Tomorrow? 5 crackerjack teachers and 6 superbly motivated students. Man, I am SO lucky!


11 responses »

  1. I also loathe teenagers. The very sight and sound of them is unbearable, let alone teaching them. Our place is host in summer to groups of Italian kids who are to be found sprawled on the floors of corridors or draped over chairs and stairs in the kind of spoiled, sulky, petulant langour only Italian girls know how to do. They are nothing to do with us, thank God.

    • When my boss asked me to be DoS for the summer school in 2004, the conversation went like this:

      I don’t like kids.
      Ah! I’m sure you do!
      No. I really really don’t like kids.
      Ah. Come on, they’re okay.
      No they aren’t. I in fact loathe and detest them.
      I’m sure you’re joking!
      Nope. Which part are you finding difficult to understand?
      Please won’t you do it? You don’t have to get involved with the kids – you just need to organise the teachers and the academic side.

      Four years later, I hurled a dictionary across a room and used a Bad Word (more than once) and was relieved of my position.

  2. I’ve never done summer school. People have suggested it, but my reply has always been “Now why would I want to waste a perfectly good summer doing that?” Maybe it’s my blank facial expression or maybe it’s my slightly clipped South African accent that puts them off but the conversation seems to stop there. Now, thanks to your sound advice, I have an extra silver-bullet put down in case any daring soul persists ~ “Candy advised me not to.”

    • My South African accent didn’t help and neither did my blank expression! But, you are most welcome to use my experience and advice to deflect any cajoling that may come your way in terms of “doing” summer school. It’s vile, in a word.

  3. God love them! The poor little buggers shipped off to blightly for their summer holidays! I used to love summer I am too long in the tooth for all that crap!

    • Poor little rich buggers! They are frightful, scary pack animals who terrorise and terrify anyone who isn’t in the pack.
      I am afraid of who I become when I have to deal with them – mainly because I’m petrified. It’s the flight/fight thing and as DoS you can’t flee, so you have to stay and fight!

      • I generally think of myself as verging on anarchist politically, but I turn into the crustiest of Old School curmudgeons around teens, thinking ‘get yer bleedin air cut’ and ‘year in the army’d do em all good’..

  4. Oh cheer up, you lot. You can usually confiscate some decent drugs off them.


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