Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Instead of ranting and raving

I almost blush to think how long it took me to realize that I am an oddball. When I think of the years I wasted trying to be approved of and to fit in. Now, at long last, I am beginning to learn. I just can´t fit in, and actually I don´t want to. The other day I was teaching a small class of boisterous 11 year-olds, most of whom have been labelled underachievers, and we were playing a team word game called Stones. The idea is, you have two teams and draw a series of empty stones on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom. The teacher then gives each team a word to translate from their own language into English, or the other way round, and a member from each team writes the translated word on to the stone. The first team to fill up its stones with correct words wins. The great thing about this game is that everyone in the class can take part without feeling overfaced by the achievement pecking order. Everybody just chips in and has a go. They have nothing to lose, they have a lot of fun, and they learn quite a lot in the process. The problem is, they get so enthusiastic that they start jumping up and down and making a lot of noise. This is the point at which the school principal decides to take a stroll down your corridor and, hearing the pandemonium coming from your classroom, opens the door and asks you what you are doing. The implication being that if your kids are making a lot of noise, then you aren´t doing your job properly. Having made his point, he then wastes no time and takes himself off to your office, where he duly informs one of your colleagues that he has just had to intervene in your class.
Now, there was a time when I would have been quite upset about this. I would have ranted and raved and felt very put out indeed. I would be lying if I said I wasn´t a bit annoyed, but now I tend to see incidents like this as signposts. Irritation can be, well, irritating, but it can also be an opportunity to take a step back and think about what you are really doing, and why. I love my teaching, but I know I am not like other teachers. I just don´t fit comfortably into institutions. What I do fit right into is being a writer. Much as I love teaching, if you told me tomorrow that I would never teach another lesson, I wouldn´t be that bothered. But if you told me I would never write again I would feel as if my life was over.
So being irritated can be a welcome prod from the universe, to remind us who we really are and what we really want to be investing our time and attention on.