Since we’ve all evidently given up on both truth-seeking and the quest to verify external reality, I’ve decided, in my teaching, to retreat into The Cave. It’s a blessing, really: means that I can give up my MA in Education and stop reading books altogether. I’m going to spend my spare-time watching a diminishing selection of comedy programmes on Netflix, ultimately settling on a single episode of ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and never watching anything else ever again.
From now on, all of the children’s written work in my classes will be marked as ‘Great!’ and I shall begin each school year with an assembly for parents in which I shall tell them that I am “going to make their children great again”. This I will do whilst darkly alluding to the dark forces of “other people’s children” (whose written work is “not great”).
Any problems in my classes – any disagreements between children and pastoral whatnot – shall be met with a smiling shrug. If children are fighting or perhaps bullying one another, I shall trust that in time they’ll wear themselves out and some sort of natural pecking-order will emerge. In any case, we’ll be able to address things later in the week in Circle Time, in which I shall now use a conch instead of a teddy bear. Throwing the conch from child to child, on seeking permission to speak, will initially be a bit of an issue since the conch has quite a vicious serrated edge to it, but I’m sure that the children whose fingers remain will eventually get the hang of tossing and catching it, injury-free.
Teaching with no responsibility for truth-seeking or the quest to verify external reality will also be quite liberating from a curricular perspective. Essentially, within the boundaries of the possible and, of course, parental approval, I’ll be able to teach anything really, as long as everyone’s happy. I thought that I’d spend a half-term or so on ‘fails’ – maybe watching YouTube videos of people falling off trampolines onto their nether regions or comedically upending their snowbikes. In maths, I think we’ll watch that video of the boy saying 21 to every equation, since in any case I’m going to mark every answer as correct.
Science lessons will be great too. I’m going to dress up as a mage (maybe call myself an alchemist, even though I’m not going to try to make gold – nothing really matters, does it?), I’m going to dress up as a mage and just do loads of perceptual tricks, like the one where you hold a pencil at its midpoint with your thumb and forefinger. You then wobble it until it looks like the straight wood has gone bendy like rubber. I could even tell the children that it’s “changed its state”, couldn’t I? We shall also be flipping lots and lots of bottles. Possibly glass ones, I haven’t decided yet. I may never decide: it’ll keep everyone (myself included) on their toes. If we still have toes.
In English (or ‘Wordacy’, as I’m going – when inclined – to call it), my read-alouds are going to really crank up a notch. Instead of reading stories that perhaps allude to some greater truth or touch upon themes that connect my children to a wider world, we’re going to read books that make the children feel good at the expense of other children. This, initially, is going to be rather difficult, since I’m not sure whether anyone is writing such books. For the time being, I’ll settle with reading stories from the Daily Mail in a slow and dramatic voice – and also I shall change the names of the people in the news stories (also, possibly, their species) in order to create more of a sense of the unreal. Second thoughts: I’ll just read the Daily Mail to them. Easier.
Teaching with no responsibility for truth-seeking or the quest to verify external reality is going to be such an intense relief for everyone, really. My students will no longer need to worry about getting things right or doing things at all; I’ll get a stamper with the word ‘Great!’ on it for marking everything (I might also get one with ‘Great?’ on it, just to liven things up); parents will be reassured that their children are greater than other people’s children; and I’ll be able to get home a bit earlier to watch ‘Kimmy Sees A Sunset’ for the umpteemth time.
Umpteemth? Umpteemth. Reminds me of something. Can’t think what. Think, think…
Ha! Don’t need to anymore.