My Teachable Moment


“How dare you juxtapose me with Cock?!”
A teachable moment: the golden second within which a learning objective is at its most achievable. It could be the culmination of a successfully co-ordinated information gap; you have established the mystery and the only pathway to understanding is the one set (like an orienteer) by you.

Except when the children set little traps of their own and, in doing so, create teachable moments for you, the teacher.

The other day a child waved a $100 bill at me during the class reading session. He’d found it in his pocket and wanted to know what currency it was and what it was worth.

Today, another child strode up to me during break and presented me with one quarter of a cut-up credit card he had found on the field. It happened to be the corner with the name on it. The name was ‘Henry Cock’.

To both of these children I had no meaningful response. Essentially I was dumbstruck. There is nothing in my classroom management books to account for such angularity, such off-the-wall absurdity. A child with a hundred dollars?!  Another child with one quarter of Henry Cock’s credit card?!

The teachable moment so kindly generated by these entirely intentional children was this: teaching is a Shakespearean Monkey typing pool type of a job. In time, with a sufficiently large flow of children passing you by, one or other of them is going to wave a large denomination bank note at you or present you with one quarter of Henry Cock’s credit card.

Some teachers return to class to find that Callum has wee’d in their bin. Yet other teachers, when they turn to face the board, find themselves teaching amid a surreptitiously growing hail of chestnuts – or worse: chairs.

I’ve got off lightly with my teachable moments. Teaching Loadsamoney and the financial advisor of Henry Cock is no great price to pay to find out that teaching is the most impossibly possible job in the world. Anything can and will happen, and no amount of readiness, preparedness or risk assessment will account for the impromptu greenback and the unforseen Cock.

It’s a precious epiphany: cheap at half the price. What tomorrow’s box of financial cats has in store for me, Heaven only knows. And the dumbfoundedness of Heaven speaks volumes.


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