The Eaton Diary of London    2001  

Baptism of fire

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Wednesday, March 21.       - Well, 'Baptism of fire' it was.

The work I'd been told had been set was nowhere to be found. And I was left alone in the noisy boiler room with class after class of 'the hormone year.' All the resources I could find were a well-worn piano, a 3' by 4' blackboard with music lines sort of visible on its very uneven surface, no chalk of course (even though this school is in Chalk Farm,) a box of scrap paper, and some old music work sheets.

The school has discipline and security systems in place, but there wasn't time to brief me on all of that - just another of those now familiar 4 lines of scribbled instructions on a piece of scrap paper, and some parting encouragements by the Deputy like 'There hasn't been a serious physical assault on a teacher for a couple of years,' and 'Most of the teachers find that ringing the office on a mobile is the quickest way to get help.' He didn't think to leave me the number, however.

I was to discover that they have a special roster of senior staff on call at all times, dealing with the fights and abuses that constantly occur. In the first 15 minutes I had to send a student to the time-out room. Their language was appalling, and the state of the rooms and yard was equally filthy. I kept thinking to myself, if only I could get these kids to Royal Albert Hall to play Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or sing a rap version of Joyful, Joyful, there could be a movie or two in this. What an opportunity! But then again Iím finding the illusions of the cinema donít seem to work in real life. Just as I looked in vain for Hugh Grant in the quaint old second hand bookshops of Notting Hill, I soon realised that neither Whoopee Goldberg, nor Merrill Streep, nor I were going to get very far with these students.

I somehow survived the two days, but I suspect several students didn't. Suspensions are common in this school and I expect some were earned for things like turning the fire extinguisher on fellow students. But the last straw for me was when I discovered a CD and box of floppy disks of mine, containing my music files, stolen from my desk during a Yr 7 class. The CD was later located but it was damaged and unusable, but the floppies were lost. It was then that I realised these kids need a social worker more that a music teacher.

 

 

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© Copyright 2001 H Grant Eaton  Contact: granteaton@usa.net