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With social injustice rife in the playground...

...expect fights over shiny new scooters, segways and power-assisted cycles, says primary teacher Steve Eddison

An incident involving Nathan's scooter highlights the wealth divide in the playground, writes Steve Eddison

...expect fights over shiny new scooters, segways and power-assisted cycles, says primary teacher Steve Eddison

Nathan doesn’t normally follow Corey’s bad example. He doesn’t throw a tantrum when his teacher suggests he might have made a spelling mistake. Or fly off the handle when his calculations don’t add up. Or sit under a table and refuse to come out just because he’s been asked to stop stabbing Maria in the leg with a pencil. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time he has ever run out of class.

Corey, on the other hand, absconds on a regular basis. This is because, unlike Nathan, he is a free spirit. Traditional educational structures cannot contain him. Classroom walls do not a prison make, nor iron curricula a cage. So in order to circumvent his natural impulse towards unfettered liberty, Corey’s teacher sometimes compromises and allows him to learn outside with the support of a supervising adult.

On Corey’s livelier days (providing air temperature is above zero, rain is less than torrential and average wind speeds are below gale force eight), he makes use of our outdoor provision and can often be seen studying forces (kicking a ball against a wall), solving practical maths problems (calculating how many Lego bricks he can throw on to the roof) or developing his language skills (asking people to go away using a well-known phrasal verb beginning with f).

The only drawback to Corey learning al fresco is that he occasionally gives his supervising adult the slip. This mainly happens when his attention is allowed to wander, like today when it wandered in the direction of Nathan’s E-scooter. While Nathan was dutifully ordering decimal fractions from smallest to largest, Corey was accessing our inaccessible cycle storage unit and twocking Nathan’s expensive new toy. 

You say you want a revolution?

In Corey’s world, twocking (taking someone else’s vehicle without their consent) is not a crime. His free spirit refuses to recognise the concept of other people’s property. In the words of John Lennon, he imagines a world with no possessions. You may say he’s a dreamer, but his philosophy is essentially one that believes in the common ownership of the means of propulsion.

Personally, I blame austerity. Welfare cuts have widened the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. Social injustice in the playground is rife and Nathan’s E scooter is not the only shiny example of affluence in the midst of poverty. The appearance of Marshall’s power-assisted cycle, Katie’s pink segway and a rash of brightly coloured hoverboards has turned the place into a seedbed for revolutionary activists like Corey.

Seeing what was happening to his scooter affected Nathan deeply. He put his hand up but to no effect. He called out his teacher’s name but was tactically ignored. As a last resort, he got up and tugged at her elbow but was told to sit and wait patiently like everybody else. Before she could remind him that there was only one of her, he disappeared out of the door.   

Watching Nathan sprint across the playground in pursuit of his scooter reminds me of a night in 1989 when someone twocked my Morris Marina. The only difference is he’s not chasing after it in his underpants.  

Steve Eddison is a teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield 

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