Teacher, High Forever – Episode 8

“In the sky of love.”

“‘In 2070, the children who are currently in Year 1 will be in the future.’ No, that’s not right.

“Technically, it is.” says Glynnis.

Glynnis Hardacre, Teaching Assistant at Bracewell Primary, is patiently listening to Michael Benzine, charismatic Year 5/6 Teacher and current holder of the Chuckie Egg Hi-Score (ZX Spectrum 128K, regional finalist, level: easy).

“‘Our children… our future children will…'” he pauses, “‘In 2070, we won’t know… our children?'” Michael scratches in biro on his postcards.

Glynnis smiles: “The first one was better.” She reaches over to an iPad on the desk in front of her and plugs a stereo lead into its headphone socket.

“Do you think I should just start with something impactful? Like ‘Children’?”

Glynnis shrugs: “Or maybe a question?”

“‘Can I know your future children?'” I offer. Michael makes some hurried notes.

Michael, as the UK government’s Edu Tech Czar, has been asked to give a TED Talk. Following in the footsteps of several of his educational heroes, he’ll have the opportunity to inspire hundreds, if not thousands of people all over the world with his vision of a brighter future for the learners of today.

“‘CAN I KNOW YOUR FUTURE CHILDREN?!'” he shouts, “‘In 2058, we don’t even know what you’ll be doing.'”

Glynnis goes to clap, then stops. “They won’t be children: they’ll be grown up.” she says, looking at me.

“I expect so,” I say. “Unless something goes awry.”

“They probably will go away,” says Michael, “It’ll be all mobile working and air b’n’b in 2095.” Michael returns to his scribbled postcards.

“Bed and breakfast?” says Glynnis, “Is that the future?”

“Who can say?” Michael adds a couple more notes and rounds upon us: “How’s this?” He straightens up and briskly flicks his postcards: “‘FUTURE MEN?!'”

“I don’t think that bit works.” Glynnis cuts in, “The audience’ll think you’re addressing them.”

“The women may or may not.” I offer.

“Hmm, you’re right, Glyn.” Michael scratches at his notes with a BETT biro. “Right, take three!” He takes a breath.

“‘In 2068, the children of now will be older in the future.'”

“Nice.”

Thanks, Glyn. ‘We can’t know now what they will be doing then.'”

“That’s right.” Glynnis is leaning forwards in her seat.

“‘This year’s Year 1s will, by 2080, in all likelihood be dead.'”

“Oh, I don’t think you should say that!” Glynnis is now waving at Michael to stop.

“Too abrupt?”

“Too abrupt.”

“Why would you want to say that?” I ask.

“It’s impactful.” says Michael, scratching again at his postcards.

“I’d get rid of that,” says Glynnis, “It’ll make the audience sad.”

“Okay, I’ll scratch that bit.” Michael takes another breath, “From the top: ‘In 2082, I’ll be dead, but your children don’t have to be.'”

“Now, that’s making me sad.” says Glynnis. “Do you have to mention death?”

“Right,” Michael flaps his cards again, “‘In the future, no one knows your children?'”

“What’s that got to do with education?” I ask. “And is it even true?”

“Okay,” Michael blows out his cheeks, “‘It’s 2085, your children are old men and, if you were alive, you’d know them.’ Is that more positive?”

“What’s your central message?” I ask. Michael drops a couple of notecards and looks over at his Lego classroom.

“‘We need to prepare children…'” he pauses, “‘for the workplaces…'” another breath, “‘of tomorrow. But without knowing what those workplaces are…'”

“Bed and breakfasts, I imagine.” adds Glynnis.

“‘… and we’ll need to…'” he gulps, “‘leverage technology, in ways that we don’t yet understand, in order to engage…'” Michael trails off into silence.

“That was nice, wasn’t it?” Glynnis is nodding at me. Michael has put his postcards down and is looking at his Converse sneakers.

“What song are you going to come on to?” Glynnis is trying to gee Michael up.

“Fuck Tha’ Police!”

“Callum! Wash your mouth out and get back to your Big Write.” Callum shrugs and carries on writing – Darren, next to him, is laughing silently, sans two front teeth.

“‘Orinoco Flow’ or ‘High’?” asks Michael. “Maybe on to ‘Orinoco’ for the ambience and off to ‘High’ – like a crescendo.”

“Ursula! Stop that sniggering!” Glynnis glares at Ursula, who returns to her Wow Word pyramid. “Come on, Michael. Let’s have one more run through.”

“Right.” Michael hums the outro to Orinoco Flow, then cricks his back. “‘Picture this:’” he spreads his palms, “‘it’s 2094, and your children, grown old, are looking back over a past that is as yet their future: as unknown to you now as it is a memory to them.'”

“Oh, that’s nice.”

Thanks, Glyn. ‘It’s a future for which no amount of preparation will prepare them… for. A future of as yet…'”

“You’ve already used ‘as yet’.”

“‘A future of herewith unknowable happenstance. Unless…'”

“Unless?”

“‘Unless we lever our technical resources to create schools that are shaped…'”

“… like trees?”

Callum?!

“Yesterday, it was a cloud.” mutters Darren.

“‘… like clouds – schools that are diversified, dispersed (no, distributed), and uniquely child-centric, centred around the child, from the child up.'”

“… like trees.”

“Oh, yes!” Glynnis rises from her small plastic seat, rapidly clapping.

Michael beams: “Lighthouse Family?”

He reaches over to press a play button on the screen of Glynnis’s iPad, which is connected to the classroom’s speakers.

“Lighthouse Family!” says Glynnis. And they both turn and smile at me.

From separate tables, Ursula and Callum look across at one another as the stereo system kicks in.

“One day, we’re gonna get so high.”

Episode 9: Teacher, Leaving

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