Ah, bliss. Two weeks and counting of silence from Whatonomy. No pontification, no psychedelic ruminatory thought-streams; nothing. And none of that blessedly formulaic Michael Benzine with his Ocular blindness to the children (and teaching assistants) around him. It has been and continues to be wonderfully cleansing not to suffer the synaptic angularities of grasping for yet another joke based on either surprising nudity or manchildish histrionics with Lego.
Yes. Silence is golden.
The silence of the keyboard, I mean. During the day, I’ve been teaching away like a teaching ferret, busily shoe-horning literary devices into young minds. (Woah, there, Whats! You’re sailing perilously close to the verminous analogies of yore.) My life has returned to a placid normality. I have begun to simply do education rather than bleat on about it. Back before I went on hiatus, there was a moment where I began to fear for my sanity. I looked into a mirror (a real one, this time), pulling down my lower eyelids and groaning at my reddened internals. Reflection, blogging, the infernality of my bluesky edu-improvisations had sent me to a place where no teacher should ever go: an endplace of educational thinking and non-doing. I had reflected myself into a verbal cul-de-sac.
As I stood in this cul-de-sac, in my plaid dressing gown (am I really going to run with this?) I felt curtains twitch in the windows of the looming semi-detached houses. I was trapped in an educational Privet Drive.
And so I stopped thinking and I stopped writing.
It has been wonderful.
And I continue to not write (I tell myself that I’m not writing now). No ideas. No jokes. Nothing of value. My words are simply white dashes on a rolling highway between two diverging sand dunes. I am in a desert. In a cul-de-sac. In my dressing gown. Bliss.
Oh yes, during the day, I am an exuberant facilitator of learning, tossing scraps of both discovery and knowledge to my little meercats. (Stay AWAY from the vermin, will you?!) Since giving up writing, I have even found the time to accomplish acts of curricular innovation not seen since Jerome Bruner watched water drain from his bath tub (he was still in it – heavy legs) and discovered the spiral curriculum as he watched a pube go round and round and round. This pube became of pube of forgetting, a pube of remembering: an interleaved pube. Oh yes, I have committed acts of curriculum fusion that will either consign me to pedagogical infamy or find me showered with pedagogical famy.
Since I’ve stopped writing about Keith’s wayward dressing gown, I’ve hosted an Olympics debate, celebrated Roald Dahl’s 100th anniversary with such mischief and unorthodoxy of which I think he would be proud, and I have let the batteries of my bluetooth remote go flat. Technology has slipped from my fingers (falling like pearls from the necklace of the mother of Batman) and left me only with a pencil, a piece of paper and my not-inconsiderable range of facial expressions. Ah, lo-fi.
Silence can be quite loud, really. In the blankness of it, small dots appear. Silence germinates. It holds a droning seed, if you listen.
And so my writing takes a turn (I promise you that I am not writing this). I imagine a place and a space within that place where stands a teacher. He stands in this space and surveys the tables arrayed before him. He turns to the whiteboard behind him. It remains white. And he turns back to the tables and the empty chairs. There is sound, but it is far off and beyond the frosted windows: a bird’s bleat and the ripple of an Austin Allegro.
For what he believes to be an entire lesson, his classroom remains in this empty time. Aloud, he asks himself why.
And, there being no one there, he receives no reply.
Oh yes, this not-writing has been a blast.
“What is it?”
“I can hear something. A scraping.”
“It’s Callum’s pencil.”
“It sounds like a cat in the attic.”
“I think, Michael, it’s time to take off the goggles.”
“Not yet. I’m so close. So close.”