Saturday, September 16, 2006

This business of teaching

It's a funny old game, isn't it? I suppose we teachers must sound like those sportsmen and women we go on about their respective sports: "that's the beauty of snooker/cricket/all in mud wrestling, Clive, you never know what's going to happen next", sort of stuff. And so with the business of teaching. Seldom dull, you have to admit.

Heard a good one today - every now and then a colleague will pass on an anecdote that has survived the telling in countless staffrooms the land o'er - about a pupil working in "techie" in the old days (pre Health and Safety legislation). I hope it's true - and even if it's not, it tells a truth all the same.

The teacher explained how they were going to make a coffee table, the first step being to take a given length of wood and cut it into four equal parts for the legs.

Well, as you can guess, when Sir gets to wee Johnny he finds he has three pieces of wood roughly the same length, and one much shorter. "No, Johnny, they've all to be the same length, remember?" says our intrepid teacher.

To which comes Johnny's reply, thereafter to live on in teacher lore: "Aye, and the plank wisnae long enough for them a' tae be the same length, wis it!"

Told well, this is funny - I hope - but it also sums up a truth about teaching, about teachers and about students which I think every teacher "gets" as soon as they hear it. I'm not sure I can quite put it into words... so, for those that have ears to hear etc, on you go.

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