A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Jason Heath on being a musical guide
Previous entry: Sixth-formers paid to teach
Thursday May 01 2008

My main duty at Kings Cross Supplementary is one-on-one teaching of pupils who are perhaps inconvenient to fit into the two big classes - because they are too old, young, clever and impatient, slow and quiet, whatever.  For those who particular like the personal attention that these sorts of lessons bestow, they can also be used as rewards for good conduct in the regular multiple-pupil lessons.  If all I do is a bit of child-minding while the Real Teachers are able to get on with their Real Teaching a bit more smoothly, well, that’s a contribution.  And of course I try to do better than that.

One of the techniques I am refining is the use of paper in these one-on-one classes.  At the end of the class I like to gather up all the bits of paper that the pupil and I have both been writing on or doing sums on and present them to the pupil.  Do with them whatever you please, I say.  Perhaps show them to your parents, to show them what you have been doing (and what they have been paying for).  The children all seem to me to have more than enough homework on their plates, and besides, I am too idle to be bothered with chasing up and marking such homework.  I like to do the lesson and then say to them, that’s it, you’re free to go, no homework, hope you learned something, hope it wasn’t too annoying, etc. etc.  And, here are all the bits of paper we used up.  These are covered in such things as diagrams, writing by them and next to it the same thing by me (often better written but not always), lists of things we (alright: I) talked about, scribbled down by me.  Last Tuesday it was the titles of Shakespeare plays, written out for a ten-year-old girl who wants to be an actress.

Although, as I say, what they do with these bits of paper is entirely up to them, I like to think that some of them do look again at some of these often unruly, sometimes multi-coloured screeds, and thus that some of the lessons referred to on them are reinforced.

I quickly learned that mere scrap paper, i.e. paper blank on one side but with the rest of my scandalously opinionated life on the other side of it, is not suitable for this purpose.  What if a parent read the wrong side?  (Most of my store of scrap paper dates from my time as the Libertarian Alliance pampleteer.) Luckily, blank paper is now as cheap as it has ever been.