The Dance of School

‘Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.’ (attributed to Nietzsche which makes me sound intelligent but it probably wasn’t him. Sorry)


You become so accustomed to the dance of school, the sways and sashays of the day, that you can feel the change coming. A faint buzzing from somewhere else and the shifting and scratching of chairs suggests that things are about to happen. Your first, perhaps second, coffee of the day has kicked in;  you’ve even had a second, final email click just to ensure you miss nothing;  a whiteboard check, even though it seems perfect; visit to the loo, straighten the tie. The music of school is about to kick off.

You are ready. The desks have class jotters, ready to go. Each book has a pencil on top. You can do that with this class because, as luck would have it, you are never teaching just before you see them. It avoids the serial sharpeners; those whose pencil is never sharp enough or too sharp to avoid breaking. You head them off at the pass. You also have a rubber and a small ruler for each. Oh, the time this saves. You take the time to sit in a chair at the back. You want to see the board from there. ‘Is my writing too small, too untidy, too difficult?’ You sit and take in the view from the chair of one who has difficulty in your class. All looks good.

The bell rings and things begin to happen. Like one of those horror ‘B’ movies, things begin to spill out into the corridor. One boy, then two. A girl, her friends. The chaos. Before too long there is an ocean of heads, all coming towards you, it seems, only you. But they start to fall off, into other classrooms. You take a breath, prepare for the onslaught. The school comes alive in those few moments.

Slowly, like the young ‘uns from ‘Lord of the Flies’ appearing from the forest, you start to make out small faces. Yep. Your lot. They smile, which is a good sign, and make their way towards you. As they enter you make sure you speak to every single one, every day. Even the resisters. A ‘good morning’ or a ‘Hi’ to everyone. You even stand in their way until they reply. It is important to you: and to them although they won’t admit it. You are talking to them. It is what good people do. They all know the drill, the routine.

As the last one enters, you share appreciative nods with your colleagues. Yes, we are all in this together. It is where we all want to be. Here and now. The corridor is now empty again and you turn inwards. ‘By the time I reach my computer, pick up my book and start the stopwatch we will all be reading.’ Most of them already are, knowing that their time is limited. Some need silent reminders, a mime of opening a book. Walking towards your desk you have a look around to see thirty eleven year olds all engrossed in their books, to varying degrees. It is not a bad job, is it? You sit down, open up your book and start the clock.

And so the dance begins.

One thought on “The Dance of School

  1. I like the idea of the silence as a gift of time and space to read. Not all children have that luxury created for them at home. Not always because of lack of interest but because family life can be very hectic for many! I like the idea of them all reading together but perhaps different books to share and discuss or maybe its the class novel and they need that time to get back into the plot and characters. I loved the visual image of them ‘dancing’ toward your room in the flow of the day but on arrival knowing the drill ( if that’s the right word) of the silent reading time. Much like every subject there will be a time and place for other appropriate pedagogues but in the time that you invest in greeting them as they arrive ( even the resistant ones) for silent reading, I think your knowledge of who they are as learners allows the silence in the first place. Lovely piece of writing. 🙂

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