Sit back, relax and read my newest column from http://www.teachsecondary.com. If you like it go subscribe by hitting the link. If you don’t, subscribe anyway because there’s good stuff in there. Also, you’re wrong – I’m fabulous.
“Sir! Did you hear about Chelsea and Tariq getting together?”
Eeeeeeewwww. If there’s one thing that’s bound to make me a little bit sick in my mouth it’s when I’m witness to a fledgling classroom romance.
You’d think (schools being the grey, cold, soul-destruction factories that they are) any blossoming of the heart between the young people that attend would be instantly crushed like a jackboot stamping on a delicate rose.
Or, at least, I’d hope it would. Crush that puny flower, jackboot!
But no. Although the environment is less than optimal when it comes to the cultivation of romance (or whatever the Y11 equivalent of romance is nowadays – a snapchat that doesn’t include parts of your anatomy I guess) love often permeates the air along with the dozen or so different deodorants that slap you upside of the nostril as you amble down the corridors. When it comes to desire, hormones trump the cold shower of the school habitat any day of the week.
So, every now and again, the jungle drums beat out the news that Tall-Lad-with-Greasy-Hair has started going out with Smiley-Girl-Who-Puts-Stars-Instead-of-Dots-on-Her-‘I’s and every now and again some other fool kid makes the mistake of thinking that I’m remotely interested in this seemingly history-changing development. That’s bad enough as it is, but it’s not just the kids that love the drama – to make my working day all the more unbearable there is often office chatter as to the suitability of the match, what the ramifications may be for all concerned and other such minutiae as if it’s a royal wedding that’s on the cards rather than some illicit snogging between third and fourth lesson.
Like I said, ‘eeeeeeewwww’. Ew. Ew. Ew.
So when it comes to students declaring undying devotion to each other and then sealing the statement by slurping face, I’m extremely happy not to bear witness and be well out of the spittle zone. Chelsea and Tariq’s epic story of love overcoming the hurdles of overly slick hair and overly decorative letter formation is not, in my humble opinion, one for the ages. Or break time. Or any other time. Especially when I’m eating.
The problem is that it often gets dragged into my orbit regardless.
Shakespeare had it right with Romeo and Juliet. Oft misinterpreted by the kids as a love story, what he really gives us is the classic and timeless tale of a couple of teens who get infatuated with each other and then proceed, invariably, to act like a pair of complete dumbasses.
(Yes, I’m well aware that’s my own personal reading of the play, but it’s my column, so hush now.)
I am not fond of dealing with dumbassery. Students in romantic relationships often see that relationship as a ‘get out of dumbassery free’ card. Petty rules no longer apply to them as they mean nothing in comparison to the passion that they feel, that no-one has felt before in the history of the world etc etc. And that’s if everything stays on track – if there’s a messy break-up or some such then expect things to go absolutely pigging nuclear and in the resultant mushroom cloud of tears, facebook slating, and revenge trysts unimportant things like grade prospects and a civil classroom environment to be blown to dust.
I’m not without empathy. I remember the all-consuming desire and the delicious uncertainty in regards to matters of the heart (and other bits) at that age. The present moment as the only moment, the shift in priorities from a cold pencil to a warm hand. An electric touch which signalled forever.
But if any of that nonsense gets in the way of my teaching, I say down with love. Down with it. Time for the jackboots.
Or, as I tell them, at least keep the icky stuff as far away from my classroom as is humanly possible. We’ve stuff to do. And sucking face will only ever get you so far because sometimes, love stinks.
Or that might just be the deoderant.
Thanks for reading.