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January 06, 2005
Back to Paradise Primary

It is now close to midnight, and I have just spent the last two and half hours concocting this posting, about why there has been such a huge public response in this country and in other countries like it to the Asian Tsunami disaster. So I have little time for much now, today. Sorry.

Although, as it happens, the Tsunami thing was also on my mind this afternoon, when I paid my first visit of the new year to Paradise Primary, and reacquainted myself with Boy One and Boy Two.

Boy One was very pleased to see me and was his usual charming and accommodating self. I learned things about his family, e.g. that his father is gone. I quickly changed the subject to my father, also gone. Divorce? said Boy One. No, try the other thing. I'm old. My mum is very old. Ah, he said. I want to live for ever, he said. Death comes to us all, I said. He spent the first half of his session writing out PlayStation 2 gaming instructions, which I did not at all understand, but at least he was writing, and then glueing them in the book he has made, which I keep for him. At the end he allowed me to read him some more King Arthur stuff, and by the end was reading along himself. The half hour went by in no time.

Boy Two was, as usual, more withdrawn, and I was willing to do anything and talk about anything just to draw him out.

And I found myself asking him about the Tsunami. Did you hear about that? Yes, of course, but at least that was an easy one word answer that he pretty much was bound to give. Do you know where that was? No? Would you like me to show you? There was a globe nearby, and I gave Boy Two a brief geography lesson.

I can see why Tsunami studies are now so appealing to teachers. Lots of death and destruction and drama for the boys. Lots of caring and sharing for the girls. I prattled on for a minute or two, pointing at the affected places on the nearby globe. Want more? No, said Boy Two.

He glanced through a complicated football book, with many cards and pull out bits, and bits of mobile cardboard. Thank you, done that.

Then we played chess. I started by insisting that the pieces be arranged in the correct starting formation. I arranged mine correctly. He then rearranged his, with only a little help getting the king and queen right. He is good at recognising shapes, I think. When we played, I confined myself to insisting that he make legal moves, rather than especially good moves. He has much to learn about this game, but did not rebel against my refereeing.

Importantly, I hoped that he would at least be sensible about not chucking the pieces around the place, and when pieces got taken, I urged him to put the dead ones back in their little bags. By these modest standards he did very well. Since they told me when I started with him that he had "behavioural problems", I surmise that he is not always this well accommodating.

Was I too bossy? Perhaps. Was I too lenient, allowing him to do amusingly unpressurising things? Well, that's what we are told to do. Make a relationship, then worry about the reading. I remain to be convinced of the wisdom of that strategy, but also remain optimistic.

Interestingly, Paradise Primary itself was far less full of stray adults like me, in fact when I went in, the place seemed almost deserted. I had already been told me that the pre-Christmas period is unusually fraught. Compared to the post-Christmas period, it certainly was.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:57 PM
Category: Brian's brilliant teaching career
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