When I started the job the kids scared the hell out of me.
They were the unknown element. They were agents of chaos. Detailed planning would be snatched up, rolled into a cone and worn as a hat. Activities would be hacked, circumvented and used for nefarious purposes often involving off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands . Conversations would turn into battles, battles into absurdities and absurdities into points of honour, only to be settled by pistols at dawn or, failing that, bouts of ultra-violence by the basketball court after last bell.
When I started I’d find refuge in just about anything that didn’t involve the classroom. Paper that stayed stacked, tick-boxes that stayed ticked, meetings that stayed minuted. There was blissful order and light in the darkness; a mundane normality that sat in direct and stark contrast to the Thunderdome that was my classroom on most days.
Now, a decade or so later, it’s everything apart from the kids scares me.
Now the classroom is my sanctuary from the many insanities going on outside. It is where I feel most at home and most comfortable. Those that I teach no longer hold any fear for me. I find being in their presence both exasperating and rejuvenating as I understand that they are neither angels nor devils just people who I try to do my best by and, on the whole, they try to do their best too.
There’s an honesty to the classroom. It’s the front line and what you see is what you get. There’s a shared purpose (if you’re lucky) of betterment and I don’t think that there’s anything more noble than that. It makes me want to be there. I don’t have a faith or religion, but to me the classroom is almost like holy ground. Miracles can happen there.
It’s the things outside the classroom, the things that push at the walls, things that affect it either directly or indirectly that I have very little power to change that now keep me up at night. A wider world of funding, paper, judgements and policy that could mean great or terrible things could happen, almost at whim.
A horrible, savage randomness pervades that I used to associate with my time in front of the kids, amongst the chairs, desks and whiteboards.
How things change.