First encounters

John Gimblett's dance teacher is out of step

Two months into my primary PGCE and I'm tired but happier than at any point during my 14 years as a library assistant. I'm 41, and about to be a father for the first time (in May, during final placement).

I already know what kind of teacher I want to be and it's one bearing no resemblance to those I endured in comprehensives during the 1970s. I love being in school, where the real teacher training takes place, more than I like being in college. Last week, however, I made a deeply unpleasant journey back in time. Friday afternoon: dance. Colleagues warn us it's humiliating. I'm not particularly worried by that - I can do humiliation.

First, we take our shoes and socks off and stand in a circle. We do some basic movements to a Fatboy Slim track. A bit embarrassing, but I'm game. Then we find a partner and choreograph a sequence before joining with another pair to make a longer one. It becomes apparent that I haven't got the brain that can memorise short dance sequences. I tell the teacher I'm having problems, but she offers no help. We have to perform the dance. I can't do it so I drop out, feeling a failure. I can remember lines of Chaucer I haven't read for 10 years, but not this.

I spend the last hour sitting at the side with a group that has grown to nine (half the class), while the teacher sneers and calls us invalids. By the end of the session, memories of my school games lessons come back to me: humiliation of being deemed useless; being beaten frequently by games teachers - with hands, rulers, dappers - mostly while naked in changing rooms.

Afterwards, I confront the teacher and ask her if she thinks she's given a good lesson, having alienated half her class and made them feel failures; offering no support; calling us names. I tell her I'll never teach my class like this, and that she reminds me of those teachers in the old days of humiliating games lessons and associated abuse.

I get home and have a swig of vodka, something I've not done after work since I was punched in the head by a teenage glue-sniffer.

John Gimblett is studying for a primary PGCE at UWIC

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