Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Back to School. Nostalgia Aint What it Used to Be.

So its back to school. I remember it well though its a long time ago for me. Fear, apprehension, enthusiasm, all manner of emotions in equal measure. Teaching in a large comprehensive one of my tasks, so to speak, was to deliver a weekly spiel, sermon, talk, call it what you will to around four hundred pupils, (one fifth of the total pupils) male and female, aged eleven to eighteen. Six of us involved, supposedly equal but some more 'dedicated' than others. Not an easy task at the best of times, particularly excruciating if you had to 'perform' without notice.

Diary September 5th, 1985.

'A new term, new children, a new challenge. Gone are the days when, as a housemaster, I was required to 'entertain' regular assemblies designed, hopefully to stimulate pupils into actions often contrary to their natural instincts. Strangely enough, though one seldom enjoys standing in front of several hundred people and pontificating, I enjoyed searching for topics, material suitable for so 'moral' an occupation. Over a three year period I must have dispatched dozens of 'semi-sermons'. How many are remembered by myself, now that time has passed, never mind by those unfortunates who had to endure my attempts at wit and wisdom week after week?
I once used ancient Rusty, our faithful old dog as the subject of a talk on loyalty. I jokingly suggested I took Rusty for walks on dry evenings but my wife had the job when it rained. Years afterwards pupils now grown up would remind me of this 'fact' though non remembered the purpose of the talk!
Few pupils believed that I worked with a man who wore glasses, a deaf aid and had an artificial leg, or that another colleague in the factory had an artificial hand, both true facts. Is it too much to hope they remembered the saying 'I had no shoes and I complained. Then I met a man with no feet' that accompanied this particular 'lecture'. A noble sentiment but unlikely to be permanently instilled in the minds of my past, usually half-attentive audiences. More likely to be remembered is the story of the one armed man who goes up to the bar in the pub and asks for a drink. His empty sleeve goes in another man's beer.
'What do you think you're doing' the man angrily exclaims.
'So what, there's no arm in it' the man angrily exclaims.
Many are the children who laughed out loud long after this story was told, for many of our pupils were not the quickest of individuals. (This story was used in the assembly dealing with disabilities.) Gone are the days when assemblies were religious diatribes. Probably the best one aims for is to keep the audience interested (and quiet) by delivering an offering containing some moral overtones, veiled or otherwise. A story comes to mind that amused some if not all.
An orchestra plays to an audience deep in the jungle. (Perhaps to soldiers in the war.) During the interval a little violinist, whilst visiting the toilet takes a wrong turn and finds himself lost. On and on on he walks, deeper and deeper into the jungle. He realises there are eyes peering at him from the dark bushes. The eyes leave the bushes, soon there are animals following him, monkeys, lions, giraffes, even an elephant. The little man stumbles into a clearing, the animals shuffling, skipping and hopping behind. He backs up against a tree, terrified. Suddenly he has an idea. He opens his violin case and brings out his instrument. He begins to play and beautiful music drifts through the jungle. The animals are entranced. They sit in a circle around the violinist. Tears roll down the cheeks of the elephant, whilst the lion purrs with pleasure. Suddenly a tiger leaps from the undergrowth, runs up to the violinist and gobbles him up. The other animals are horrified.
'What did you do that for?' they all tearfully shout.
'Ey, yer what, what did you say' asks the tiger.
( A disability story that some explained to their friends in lesson one after the assembly)
to be continued.

21 comments:

The Crimson King said...

showing my support following.
Follow back :)

http://beautifulwomensexypinups.blogspot.com/

Valerie said...

Terrific post, Ken. I don't like talking to audiences, never feel comfortable with it, but you obviously had the knack... and the stories. That last one was thought provoking as well as funny.

slommler said...

Loved the last story!! Made me laugh for sure! It is hard to "move" an audience...especially a young one. I would be a little fearful as well!!
And the Christmas King needs to learn some blogging manners I think!!
Hugs
SueAnn

Jennyta said...

That brings back memories of when I was deputy head in a primary school and experienced all the 'joys' of taking assembly. :)

Happy Frog and I said...

I admire teachers so much for what they do. I would love to be able to do it but it is tricky enough trying to get grown ups to think differently! Really liked this post.

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Loved the post....the title caught my eye and made me think...

Nakamuras on Saipan said...

Loved the post....the title caught my eye and made me think...

Rock Chef said...

Hm, I missed the fall of the religious morning assembly - ah, the poor head master trying to force 500 young thugs to sing hymns...

Dumdad said...

Good stories!

Moannie said...

I have never, ever had to give a talk to a live assembly, in fact I had a nightmare about that very subbject last night. I do so admire 'good' teachers.
Lovely story.

Freda said...

School Assemblies were always something I found more than challenging. Loved the story about the violinist.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Crimson King
Thanks for the support.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Valerie
Thanks Val.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Slommler
And thanks Slommler.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Jennyta
Deputy head indeed! Well done.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Happy Frog
Thanks and we are not really that clever!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Nakamuras
Thanks, always glad to make anyone think!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Rock Chef
Not too bad on a good day, I miss it, but not too often!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Dumdad
Thanks!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Moannie
Thanks, its the egotism that feeds me I reckon!

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Freda
Thanks, my wife always says the old stories are the best!