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December 10, 2004
Boy One and Boy Two play cards

Yesterday afternoon I had my last visit to Paradise Primary before Christmas, and, in retrospect, it went okay, although at the time it was a strain.

When I got there, it transpired that Boy One and Boy Two had hatched a plan, to the effect that I should see both of them together for an hour, rather than each one in turn for half an hour. Okay I said, since it's my last visit before Christmas. At that VRH course we were warned about taking them in numbers greater than one, but I agreed, on the clear understand that if I didn't enjoy it, and that if they didn't behaved as I wished them, it would be back to the old system.

Not having done any regular teaching of boys of that age I was startled at the transformation that overtook Boy One especially. Boy One, when with me alone, is the soul of mature politeness, not to say charm. When he's trying to get me to do what he wants, he is very nice, very plausible, very winning, and we get along excellently (for I too can turn on the charm when I am seeking things that I want). But when faced with me together with Boy Two, whom Boy One obviously regarded as a puppy below him in the puppy hierarchy, Boy One focussed most of his attention on shouting at Boy Two with a view to subjugating him. Ingratiating himself with me was cast aside. I spent most of my time telling them to keep their voices down, Boy One especially, please, or I'll get into trouble.

Boy Two, who tends to be a tad despondent with me alone, seemed rather happier and livelier, which was probably because of the general air of relative anarchy that prevailed, compared to the one to one sessions, plus the fact that he had a bit of company of his own age, which he seems to like a lot. When with me alone he tends to fidget in a rather alarming and One Few Over the Cuckoo's Nest sort of way. There was none of that today. When physically irked, he would run to the other side of the room.

I have been urging both Boys to do some reading, or at least submit to me reading to them, so that the idea of books as sources of information and entertainment is fixed in their minds to work its future magic, even if the notion has no effect now. They submitted to another two pages of King Arthur and his endless conflicts with the diabolical Morgan le Fay, the source of all trouble in Arthur-land, it seems. Then they mucked about with coloured pens and paper. Then they played cards.

These cards are of the ones with soccer internationals, each card having a picture of a soccer star and a list of individual information, like country, year of birth, weight, height, number of international goals, number of years of international soccer, and so on. The cards are divided oh to hell with it, who cares what the rules are? But the point is: these rules involved comparing the information on your card with the other fellow's card.

I seriously don't think that they realised they were reading.

It was a long hour. They seem to welcome the fact that I will reappear in January, which was pleasing to me, but at the end of it all, I was tired.

What looking after twenty such, all in a pack for a whole day must be like, I dare not speculate.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:20 AM
Category: Brian's brilliant teaching career

"They submitted to another two pages of King Arthur and his endless conflicts with the diabolical Morgan le Fay, the source of all trouble in Arthur-land, it seems."

Brian, surely this would indicate to you that they are just not interested in King Arthur. This is not surprising really as he has no relevance to them in the slightest.

Perhaps you would have more joy if reading football magazines, Playstation guides or other material relevant to young boys. You could play Top Trumps with them or maybe get them into something like Warhammer.

Not many boys I know have any interest in reading just for the sake of it. Give them a reason to read and your one hour will be far more constructive and enjoyable.


Comment by: Mike Peach on December 10, 2004 05:36 PM

Yeah yeah, I know.

But the thing is that Boy One, when in Impress Brian mode, actually seemed to quite like Arthur versus Morgan le Fay, and picked it out three times running from the zillion other books in the Paradise Primary Library (where we do our thing). And when I brought in a football book a week or two back, Boy Two scorned it, despite having already expressed interest in the football cards. Lilkewise the sports pages of the Evening Standard. They are creatures of mood, and I am only just beginning to get to know them.

Besides which, I think it's not that they hate reading, so much as that they very much like drawing pictures of terrifyingly well armed men (hand held missiles etc.), of the sort their lady teachers probably discourage, and say "we agreed" that we wouldn't do those, etc. - i.e. discourage more effectively than I do.

As you say "possibly ...".

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on December 10, 2004 06:08 PM

Greetings froom California! You have just discoverd the Universal Boy Theory of Subtractive Intelligence. Take two boys, both of IQ 100, and put them in a room together. The average IQ immediately goes to 50.

Two is also an inauspicious number of boys, three is better. Three girls, however, don't get on as well as two girls, unless they are unusually well-mannered.

D'Aulaire's Greek Myths were popular with my blood-thirsty crew, as were illustrated folk tales featureing blood gore & dismemberment. It is just a boy thing, I guess.

Comment by: liz on December 17, 2004 05:42 AM
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