Michael is despondently fingering his Lego doppelgänger; Glynnis looking on fretfully.
“He’s been lambasted in the blogosphere.” she says, her hand moving gingerly across the table towards Michael.
“My nemesis.” Michael mumbles, twisting the head of his Lego man.
“David Duvet has laid into his latest piece of research.” Glynnis smiles at me and draws her hand back. “Michael’s Apple Watch project; his pride and joy.”
Michael Benzine, Edu Tech Czar to the UK’s Department for Education, has spent the last five years, a staggering £17 million and 264 bags of Skittles on a project to realise the “edutaintional” benefits of the Apple Watch in the primary classroom.
Unfortunately for him, his findings have been derided by leading edublogger, David Duvet: a teacher who can make or break an educational theory and thereby consign many a peddler of educational fad to the pedagogical Brabantia.
“He destroyed Brain Gym in 2007,” says Michael, adjusting the chinstrap of his 360 degree, virtual-reality headcam. “Now its founder is reduced to educational consultancy.”
“Barbara Grenfell, the founder of Learning Styles has to collect old tennis balls.” offers Glynnis. “We bought a dozen off of her last month. Out of pity.”
She looks at Michael.
“They stank.” she says.
Michael’s research into educational uses for the Apple Watch did not deliver the results he’d hoped for, but he remained proud of its tangential findings.
“We discovered,” he says, “that a team of teachers working together in an open plan configuration of classrooms would gradually synchronise the timing of their stand goals.”
“Stand goals?” I ask.
“The Watch has a feature that monitors your activity and, basically, tells you to stand up every hour or so.”
Glynnis makes to stand up. “Like this,” she says, but Michael motions her to remain seated.
“There’s no need, Glynnis, no need.” They hold each other’s gaze for a moment. Glynnis smiles and reseats herself.
“We found,” Michael goes on, “that teachers in these scenarios, after a couple of months, start to stand up at the same time.”
“Like menstruation.” Glynnis smiles and Michael shifts in his seat, accidentally snapping his Lego man in half.
“What applications do your findings have for education?” I ask.
“In a roundabout way,” says Glynnis, “that’s what David Duvet asked. Except he called Michael a ‘shitwad’.” Michael winces.
“Please, Glynnis!” say Michael, “There are children present.”
Callum looks up from his Big Write and nudges Ursula. “Miss said ‘shitwad’ again.”
Michael sighs and walks over to relight the candle on Callum’s table. “It was a beautiful sight,” he says, fiddling with a box of Swan Vesta. He returns to seat himself at our table at the front of the classroom.
“Fourteen male and female teachers all standing up at the same time. I’d watch the video footage on timelapse, wouldn’t I, Glynnis?”
“‘Poetic synchronicity’, you’d say.” she replies.
“Still,” Michael goes on, repairing his Lego man, “Nick(y) Gibb(an) liked it, didn’t they?”
“Yes.” Glynnis brightens.
Michael clicks a switch on the side of his headcam and a red light winks blue. “They said there was something Manchurian about it that’d come in useful in the long run.”
On the smartboard, Keith reaches forward from the sofa to grab a handful of Skittles.
“What were all the Skittles for?” I ask.
Michael is about to answer when he looks at his watch; as does Glynnis.
Simultaneously, they slowly stand up.
Glynnis smiles at me.