Friday, January 21, 2011

Laughing at Nonsense

My old Weight Watchers leader would turn in her grave – if she was in her grave, which she isn’t. I broke a cardinal rule – something that has been drummed into me over sporadic attempts at loosing weight.

Food should not be used as a reward for good behaviour!

Indeed, I was tempted and gave in. Someone at work said she was going into town during lunchtime and asked if anyone wanted anything bringing back. I was drowning at the time – under a sea of test papers - the contents of which were rather dismal. I had reports to do and groups of people to organise later that day…a little incentive was required.

We talked about the size of the bar. I marked out with my hands – so wide, so long – and assumed that we were both thinking about the small bars – five or six squares. She misunderstood the hands and came back with a much bigger bar than I anticipated.

I laid down a few ground rules as per consumption of the bar. I resisted the urge to tear off the wrapping and stuff the whole thing into my mouth. I carefully doled out one square for every four or five reports written, or bits of test paper read, digested and commented on. I was strict with myself. The sea of paper diminished slowly and I reached the dry land of the desk.

The comfort gained from the taste of chocolate melting in my mouth took the edge off the disappointment of the test papers. It seemed that more than a few of my learners had departed from the path of learning and had fallen into the pit of “dunno”.

I swatted a few accusations batting about the brain, that it was my fault, somehow, that they hadn’t learned the stuff. I had faithfully done my bit – and more. Truth to tell they were the faithless ones and hadn’t done their bit. Such truth didn’t bring that much comfort.

“Don’t you just laugh at some of the nonsense people write?” someone asked.

I probably would laugh if there were no league tables or targets to meet.

I got to musing about the whole “laugh” thing. It seems to me that sometimes laughing is not always appropriate. I am not talking about funerals and sad occasions. I am not talking about humour at all really.

When I went to secondary school I was placed in a middle stream of ability. Looking back, I was perfectly placed in terms of ability. The trouble is, my best friend at the time was in a top stream, and I wanted to be in her class. There were no transfers in those days until you took your options at the end of fourth year. I worked hard. I worked hard to get out of the middle stream and prove I was top stream material. Failure was not an option and low pass marks were not laughed at but mourned.

Kids today….rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…I suppose that just because I am met with shrugged shoulders and, what can only be classed as “celebrating the failed test”, doesn’t mean that when they are on their own, out of the limelight of their friend’s approval, they don’t actually mourn the fail. I suspect not. But the joy of failure annoys me. It is not part of my mental make-up.

The opposite of laughing is probably crying. Maybe I don’t laugh at the things people write, but that doesn’t mean that I should be crying either - making myself responsible for the things they didn’t write that they should have. They chose to write what they did, just as they chose to forgo revising and chose throughout the year not to apply themselves to work.

You may take the student to the book, but you can’t get them to read it! You may present the material with technicolour powerpoints and a few dozen interesting five minute youtube extracts but whether they learn it or not…

Laughing at the nonsense suddenly seems a good idea.

Make way for a dozen light titters, a loud ho ho, a playful ha ha or two, a sprinkling of hee hees and a snorting honk.

I'll try not to sound too unhinged!

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