I had an awful class yesterday. A teacher was absent, so her class was clubbed with mine. I was not particularly sceptical; I did not think I needed to be.
How wrong I was! I did not know what to do with sixteen-year-old children determined to take advantage of a new teacher. There was a whole bunch of them, shouting across the class, drinking and spilling water, sitting in couples, professing to headaches… The works. I had planned seven points of discussion that I thought we would not even begin to finish discussing – beauty, marriage, alcoholism, prostitution, feminism, madness and racism. I wanted to discuss these ideas (or at least some of them) and then relate them to the texts we had.
I began with beauty. It disintegrated into commenting on the beauty of several girls in class.
I talked about marriage. It disintegrated into ideas of celebrities and marriages, and then into how much each of the girls would spend on their weddings.
I invited them to talk about feminism. It disintegrated into nonsense that was entirely tangential; I cannot even remember what.
I had no control and no idea of how to control a class of immature hooligans.
Today’s class with the same bunch was as if yesterday never happened. At the end of the class, two students even came up to me and asked whether they could join my class instead because they evidently enjoyed it. What a bewildering place the world is.