Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mem'ries, like the corner of my mind.

So yesterday, a bunch of us teachers-in-training went along to this public high school in Sydney's western suburbs as a part of the Department of Education and Training's Beyond The Bridge program. I'm not really sure exactly what the point of it was. The impression I got was that it was about challenging stereotypes of public schools, and western Sydney ones at that. Not that it changes my mind at all, I'm still gunning to teach in the public system anyway.

But I'll you what though, the school they sent me to totally shat on the one I attended, back in the day. It had just under one-and-a-half thousand kids and over a hundred teachers. And for a public school, it was pretty well resourced. But of course, a tad more couldn't have gone astray. My high school in the northern suburbs, on the other hand, was relatively small with only about six or seven hundred students, and I used to think that that was pretty good as far as public schools went.

The small group of us from USyd got the introduction and were led on a tour by the deputy principle. Of course he doesn't teach anymore, being in charge of discipline and all, but he was a great bloke and he totally loves what he does - in his words, he just loves punishing kids. But not in a sadistic kind of way I don't think, he seemed like a big softy. On the tour, he must've confiscated dozens of iPods, mobile phones and other articles of electronic paraphernalia from unsuspecting students, and told off about a dozen more for having their shirts untucked. He had this look he'd give them while he waited, too. Yep, he stopped the tour of the school until every shirt was tucked, and then we moved on. Such a character.

I spent most of my time at this particular school in the science department, and if I wasn't in the staff room, I was in the labs. And they were exactly the same as the labs at my high school. It was so creepy. They looked the same. They even smelt the same, of musty linoleum and wet rag. I was almost expecting my year twelve biology teacher to jump out of the prep room.

It was so strange being in a school and not being one of the munchkins, pottering around the school, from period to period, learning stuff. It was stranger still, hanging out in staffrooms and having morning tea with the other teachers. Gosh I love 'em. Once the bell went, the place would be full gossip and idle chit-chat. This one physics teacher I spoke to was about to head off and show this video to her year seven kids about human reproduction, and she was giggling like a school girl.

The science head teacher took me down to his year seven class, which happened to be the bottom stream. While we were talking kept referring to them as the dumb kids, the dumb class. Of course I found that a little shocking - I didn't think teachers were supposed to speak like that. But they were great kids. Incidently, it was a lesson about the alimentary canal and sir said to his class that they were mature year seven kids now, and that it was faeces not poo, anus not bumhole, et cetera. But I laughed. Well, tittered. Anus... teehee.

I also went to a special ed science class, and they were performing an experiment to see how much energy was in food by heating water with a flaming peanut. Some of the boys in the class incinerated a whole pack of matches, while this group of girls were, or seemed, totally terrified of the bunsen burner. And get this: they called me Sir and asked me to light it for them. Ohmigod! I could get used to that. The sir part, not the flirting sudents. I mean it would be flattering and all, but wrong.

I'm looking forward to practicum in June. Fifteen days of observing and practice teaching.

Listening to:
Title: Popular Mechanics for Lovers
Artist: Beulah
Album/station: The Coast Is Never Clear (2001)
Length: 3.04