Saturday, 8 February 2014

Teaching Tales

As a ‘resting’ actor I have been doing quite a lot of teaching recently. I am one of the many who like to share their pearls of thespian wisdom with the young and eager.  Or in my case - the young and well-off little darlings of Surrey.

Ooooooo they are a funny bunch. 

Some are, of course, lovely but the rest are a blend of prep-doing, lacrosse-playing, ‘Miss... er-what’s your name again, Diana??-saying so and so’s!

One little missy ran up at the beginning of class this week and informed me that “Mummy didn’t send me to school today because I had diarrhea.” I managed to contain the inner screams of “Why on earth are you here then?  Get away from me you vile little person, I need my anti-bac hand gel’” and instead smiled and said “Oh poor you, take it easy today,” as I edged away from her.

In the middle of a singing warm up, another little lady shot her hand up “Do you know who Allah is?” Well, how do you reply to that mid ‘Lalalalala?’ “Ummm, yes, I do, now keep singing.”  A few exercises on, the hand pops up again, “Do you know who played Annie in the film of Annie?” I was beginning to feel like I was on Mastermind and either the metaphorical  spotlight or this child was giving me a migraine. “It was Aileen Quinn,” she answered herself proudly.  I can only presume she had been reading an encyclopaedia this week and had got up to A. I look forward to Boadicea, bunions and Barack Obama next week.
It's gonna be a long term......

In another school I had asked everyone to bring in a special picture to talk about in class.  Instead of pictures I was naturally met with a barrage of excuses, my favourite was - “I have had such a busy week and my mummy has been sooooooo busy, I didn’t get home until, like, 6 every day. I’ve just been too busy to do anything.” Thinking of my working-mum sister, friends and Dad who still doesn’t finish work until 9pm despite being over 60, I replied, “You’re 6, Tabitha, how busy can you be?”

I presume lusting after 1D is a full-time job these days (I kid you not, this girl and her classmates regularly perform a 1D song to me word perfect and discuss the merits of Harry’s love life. Let me remind you.... they are 6.) On a less cynical note, how sad is it that 6 year olds are feeling stress? I think my main concern at 6 was whether I’d have Findus crispy pancakes for tea or how my den was getting on in the garden. If they already have that awful “there’s not enough hours in the day” feeling, what hope is there?  There is a lifetime of rushing about and feeling like you are letting people down to look forward, please stay watching Peppa Pig and playing for as long as possible.

One pupil who did remember her picture described a crayon drawing that a friend had drawn her.  She said it was special because she was moving schools and she was going to miss her friends. I asked “Why are you friends with her? and this reply melted my cynical old heart, “Well, when I first met her, she smiled so brightly at me and she is always smiling and nice to me.” Is that not the best and most simple explanation of what being a friend is? A big smile can do the most wonderful things; put people at ease, get you a job, make a friend, make someone’s day or make someone fall in love with you.


So the best lesson that this teacher was taught this week was........(despite the obvious highlight of learning about Allah).......smile brightly people! It is the simplest and best way to make you and other people happy.

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