November 23, 2004
Dressing up for Paradise Primary

Yesterday I visited Paradise Primary again, and this time I tried something different. I dressed well. Smart suit. Smart shirt. Tie. A new pair of shoes. The idea was to make my two charges more biddable, to impress them. I remember reading, somewhere, that what determines the behaviour of boys in a classroom is not what the teacher does in the class, but what the boys perceive the teacher to do outside the class. What counts is the perceived position of the teacher in the pecking order out there in the big, wide, bad world. Dress better, and you look more important in this world, and hence to the boys. Ergo, they pay attention to you.

Whether it was coincidence or causation, the boys were more biddable. Boy One even asked me about my smart clothes. Why are you wearing such smart clothes? – he asked. Because I am doing something important, after this, I said. Not that this isn't important, I added hastily, but this other thing is, you know, really important. So how about we do some reading now, Boy One? Okay, says Boy One, and we do.

Boy Two also submitted to some reading.

I don't want to give them more informative nicknames than this, because I don't want to impose my expectations upon them, and nicknames are bound to embody expectations. The One and Two thing is strictly a matter of chronology. Boy One goes first, then Boy Two

Later, I had another look at the Volunteers' Handbook, and it seems I can relax about whether we do any actual reading or not. Playing games, drawing pictures, which is what I have actually been doing with them a lot of the time, and generally establishing a relationship, is quite sufficient to start with. I am tempted to scoff and am sure that some of the readers of this may scoff, but then I think, these people do know their thing, and have had a lot of experience at it. I shall be guided by their guidance, and will relax about us having to do reading every time. I may even read them the bit in the manual where it says we don't have to do any reading. This may amuse them, and get them thinking about the uses of reading.

Next time, I will try dressing down to my usual standard, and see what difference that makes. If they refuse to do any reading, what with me so dressed down, I now know that this doesn't matter.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:22 PM
Category: Brian's brilliant teaching career