Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Objectives: This week, I have been mostly learning French.

Every lesson must have an objective. This is phrased in a variety of jargons:

WALTs (We Are Learning To), LOBs (Learning Objectives), Objectifs (in French).

They break down into outcomes, usually following the form: All, Most, Some. Thus, for example, All students will be able to identify 8 holiday activities, Most students will be able to say which holiday activity they like and Some students will be able to give a reason why they like them.

It gives a lesson focus and purpose, but can be taken too far. According to the latest OFSTED criteria, all students should be aware of what their objectives are that lesson and should be able to rattle off its aims and outcomes when asked by an inspector (at any given point in the said lesson). As a fellow teacher pointed out to me today, the mechanical and contrived way in which we are now encouraged to train the students to parrot their objective is not dissimilar to the famous Fast Show sketch, Jesse's Diets:

Sunday, 14 February 2010

No One Likes Us - We Don't Care!

My dear Year 8 football team let themselves down the other day. Losing by a handful of goals in the semi-final of a cup competition, they fouled, complained, swore and gave up playing. My co-coach and I are racking our heads for an explanation: where did the eager, happy and undoubtedly talented footballers of last year disappear to, and why are they replaced by this ragtag bunch of prima donnas - refusing to play in the position they've been asked, moaning at each other and losing the game through serious ill-discipline.

In general, I don't write about football analytically (leaving that to other cynics), but I've often wondered at how ridiculously early children in the UK are forced to play within a rigid tactical structure (traditionally 4-4-2). Even primary school teams with some kids as young as 9 or 10 will categorise certain players as "a defender" or "a centre forward" with little regard to a) their future physical development, b) the improvement of certain key technical features to their game, such as a first touch or passing awareness, or c) the pressure that comes with playing tactical 11-a-side instead of playing football for the fun of it. An 11 year old player then becomes attached to their position (with some positions obviously more tinged with glory than others - a centre forward tends to be more cocky than the left back) and it is difficult to switch his or her mentality when playing them in another position (or 'out of position' as they now see it!).

With this in mind, the behaviour of certain ring leaders of last week's Players' Revolt becomes clear. Two are at professional or semi-professional clubs already and desperate to make it as pros. Their mothers and fathers foster their ambitions and regularly turn up for games. Sometimes their presence results in a stream of criticism, though usually it is encouraging. But the parental pressure, coupled with the Sunday league 11-a-side coaching, results in our kids now feeling that they know better than me and my co-coach.

When our central midfielder decided that he was now a centre forward, the problems began. When our centre forward refused to move to the wing the problems deepened and when our winger was fouled late on in the second half, he stood up and punched the opposition player in the face.

At times like these Co-coach and I have to remind ourselves that although we might be watching the future Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard, we are Educators first and Football Fans second. It was with a heavy heart, therefore, that we had to stop the game and instead of congratulating little J our winger for a superb upper-cut, send him off the pitch and suspend him from school for a day.


On an unrelated note - further to my post on Wednesday 27th January, I have reconsidered about making the blog exclusive. I was worried about incriminating myself (paranoia, pure and simple), but have decided to keep it public. Thank you to those who emailed me.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ernst Gräfenberg

Year 9 class.

A (girl): What's a G-spot?!
MM (boy): Hurrrgh hurrrgh.
A: Shuttup - what is it? Stop talking about it!
J (girl): It's a thing girls have. It's here. (pointing at the middle of her stomach).
A: What does it do?
J: Not much, I dunno.
D (boy): It's cos girls don't have a...
Me: Excuse me! Do we have to discuss this now? Get back to your work.
A: But SIIIIR! I don't know what a G-spot is....
Me: Stop shouting out 'G-spot'!
A: But Sir! Just tell me! The boys keep talking about it and I don't know what it is! (chanting) G-spot! G-spot! G-sp--
Me: Sit back down and be quiet. I don't want to have to call home and repeat what you've been shouting about in my class down the phone to whoever's at home!
A: It's fine, Sir, my mum doesn't know what her G-spot is either!

How do I even get into these situations! I'm trying to avoid the topic and it leads to this!

Compound Nouns

I was trying to teach Year 7 about compound nouns. In French you can't make compound nouns in the same way as it is possible in English. Cheesecake becomes Gâteau au fromage, for example. Other compound nouns are formed with a partitive 'de' like pomme de terre for 'earthapple', or potato.

Me: So for example, you might stick two words together in English to make a new one. Hourglass, for instance. Or steamboat or Hogwarts or laptop. Can anyone think of any other compound nouns in English?
MM: Dickhead?
DJ: Bumhole!
KB: Dumbarse!

Well at least they understood the grammatical principle.