“Eyes on who?” Teaching from a Vauxhall Viva


“Eyes on who?”
I’ve recently cleared a large space at the front of my classroom in order to make way for a two-tone, gold and brown Vauxhall Viva.

[adjusts rearview mirror]


Some see gold; some see beige.
Granted, I’ve lost a little (well, all) of my carpet space, but then I was never a big fan of circle time. What I’ve lost in space, however, has been more than compensated for by a gain in attentiveness and kudos.

I’ve found that, by delivering direct instruction whilst leaning laconically against the bonnet of a Vauxhall Viva, with the sleeves of my blouson leather jacket rolled up just below the elbow, my students are much more attentive. The impact on their attainment levels has been dramatically positive and much greater than my peers (one of whom teaches whilst sat in a large wooden, Dutch clog).

I experimented with a range of vehicles in the last year, originally teaching whilst sat cross-legged on the roof of a 1983 Nissan Patrol. However, the Patrol was a little too high and interfered with my sight-lines. And once I stood up a bit too quickly, in order to signal to my TA to work with The Dolomites, and my head went though a ceiling tile.

The Viva has proven to be an ideal height for me to survey the entire class. I’ve also contrived a steering mechanism not unlike the one developed by Rowan Atkinson in the episode of Mr Bean where he has to drive back from a department store on the roof of his Mini. This enables me to drive, carefully and slowly, around the carpet and central area of the classroom in order to interact more effectively with The Stags, The Cherries and The Rover 200 (who sits at a desk on his own).

I also have a long broom which I can use to gently prompt and alert students to remain on task by lightly nudging them in the face with its bristles.

Using a large, but slightly old car as a teaching tool has tranformed a whole range of classroom practices that, I’ll confess, were getting a little jaded. I’ve started lessons whilst hidden in the boot, delivering the learning objectives muffled by layers of panelled steel. I can call the class to attention by tooting the horn. I even have a cartridge of Dark Side of the Moon that I can play whilst the children polish spark plugs and drain the sump.

Now I’m not saying that you would necessarily see the same uplifts in learning if you, for example, taught whilst sat in a side-car or leaning against the fender of a Ford Escort Ghia (with walnut effect dash and leatherette gear knob). I’m not saying that, but I can only describe my own vast successes in delivering and managing the learning journey of my students whilst arrayed over and in various parts of semi-vintage, not-quite-prestigious automobiles.

So try it for yourself: you’ll never look back. But if you do look back, be careful: objects are closer than they appear.


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