Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Face values.

"So this year there were 224 candidates, 78 who didn't complete the year,  94 passes, and 52 fails.

The average mark for the year was 11.58 - that's 0,4 up on last year.  Well done!"

Anybody got anything to add? 

Well that's another year done and dusted, bar the second sessions. Thank goodness that's all over.

Marked for life

The English teacher handed me back another double-sided piece of paper.  We had gone through the motions, I had done what was demanded, she had marked her customary  '14/20 quite good', that  I noted vaguely. Paper, scrawl, paper, stamp, school bell, day done.

Serious Science 

I have absolutely no memory of any mark in chemistry. I remember the bunsen burners we were not allowed to touch, that the chemistry laboratory smelt bad.  I never really realised that science was serious stuff.

Science and comedy

There was the day that the chemistry teacher wanted to demonstrate how sodium reacts with water....

Now that I remember.  We all trudged out to the sea-wall.  He donned a science-fiction-inspired scientific mask, heavy gloves, and a scruffy white coat.

At the call of three, eyes-wide with excitement and a certain apprehension, we ducked behind the sea-wall.

Dramatically, Mr Slightly Nervous but ultimately Pretty Brave Chemistry Teacher (no memory for names) lobbed the aforesaid chemical substance into the sea.

Rather than the excitement of a fantastic explosion we got phizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.(2 minutes)......phut.

A scientific masterpiece.  His sophisticated mask did nothing to hide his embarrassment.

Face values

So what shall I retain from the cohort of students from 2013-14?  Will it be their marks?  Their scientific progress?  The agreeable blip they made in the data?

I think not.

There are moments, anecdotes, events, creations, which come back to me now. In this instance I can see expressions of emotion on their faces:
  • They have just made their first movie, their friends are crowding around a tablet trying to glimpse their comic performances captured for posterity.  
  • They are singing a self-taught Christmas Carol, their faces are lit up with joy. 
  • They are standing,  as a group on the top of a mountain, complete strangers, foreigners, three days earlier, beaming as one into a Chinese student's camera. 
  • They are completely engaged in conversation with a surprise visitor from the United Kingdom.
  • They are captured over-coming their difficulties to imagine a project playing with a pile of Lego bricks.
  • They are learning to dance hip hop with one of the students who has revealed himself to be an acrobatic expert. They are overcoming their embarrassment with gentle cajoling from the dancer.
These are not numbers, these are recognisably people I know.

Science Fiction.

0.4 above average! Lies, statistics and damned life in all that?

Numbers, tables and charts mean nothing to me.

I prefer real face values which really mark me.


  1. Learning comes to life! Learning IS life!