Friday, July 8, 2011

Those that can, do...

...and those that can't, teach.

A very poor spirited proverb that demeans teachers, it always leaves me wondering about those that can't even teach? Like me for example.

I'm so child unfriendly that if I were a toy I'd be labelled 'only suitable for those over 18'. I can get on fine with my children (although they might disagree) and with other people's children (in small doses, although this does depend on the child...there are some I choose not to have in my house) but children en masse? In a schooling situation? No thank you. I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.

So quite how I found myself this morning, in front of a class of 22 ten year olds still escapes me.

The current topic for Jasmine's class is 'the body', a subject that when first mooted was supposed to include sex & reproduction, this has clearly been forgotten about (unless they're going to cover that in the next two weeks, which I can't see) as they've been backwards and forwards over healthy eating and vegetables and exercise and now they've all prepared a specific topic (Jas did the skin) to present to the class.

My first mistake: A few weeks ago, on a wet weekend, I finally gave in to Simon's unsubtle nagging about tidying up the study. I emptied all the shelves, re-ordered everything and created two bin bags of rubbish (Simon will so regret this, he'll never find anything, ever again) during my tidying I came across an old science kit of Ben's entitled 'Blood, Bones and Body Bits' and suggested to Jas that it might be useful for her current school project - silly me.

Inside this box was a heart, a red plastic (with gruesome vein detailing) heart and the instructions for demonstrating to children how blood flows into and out of the heart and the function of the valves. Jas and I took this to show her teacher, and I asked him whether he'd be able to understand the instructions (as they're, thoughtlessly, only in English) he said he'd get his daughter to translate it for him. And that was my second mistake. I should have gone along with the instructions already translated, because of course he didn't get round to translating it and so I said I'd come in to show the class.

My third mistake: Choosing a day and a time that he wasn't there. Herr B sloped off to a 'meeting', leaving me with 20+ children and a substitute teacher (this class is pretty wild, and Herr B does seem to be the only one who can get them to be productive).

However I survived. It was a terrifying ordeal though, standing at the front of a hot classroom, trying to demonstrate in a foreign language an experiment that I hadn't had the forethought to try out at home...

I'm so glad that I took some time yesterday to think through how the experiment would run and what extra words I might need ('cos I don't have the German for 'heart valve' or 'ventricle' in my day to day vocab) I also thought to take with me newspaper (to protect the desk - I'm such a Blue Peter girl at heart) and a large plastic bowl*.

We started by making the 'blood' (water + red and green food colouring) then we listened to each other's hearts, established that everyone was still alive (although it's quite likely some of the boys are brain dead) and the noise that the heart makes, and then things got messy. Taking the heart we connected the valves and then poured in the blood and squeezed. The bowl was definitely my best decision, catching all the blood that came out and enabling all the kids to have a go at squeezing blood out of a heart.

Hopefully it was an interesting lesson for the class, hopefully I didn't make a complete fool of myself, at least I didn't end up with red or green food colouring on my clothes which was my one worry, just red hands from all that blood!

* just before Christmas I bought what is probably meant to be a small baby bath for the sole purpose of soaking my turkey in it (a great recipe btw) but it has since been used for pedicures and now 'blood' collecting.

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