Being on the Joyful List doesn't make headlines

30th May 2008 at 01:00
It will come as no surprise that I wasn't mentioned in this year's Sunday Times Rich List
It will come as no surprise that I wasn't mentioned in this year's Sunday Times Rich List. I didn't make the Happy List either, created by The Independent as an antidote to the Rich List: the 100 people who have, in some way, made the lives of others happier. Where were the legions of deserving teachers on this list, I wondered?

If it's not too late, I'd like to make a nomination. I want to nominate the pupils in my school. Yes, all of them. On one single day in April, they not only generated enough happiness to fill the school several times over, but did, in a practical way, make the lives of other children a bit happier too.

We abandoned the curriculum and devoted the entire day to raising funds for charity. Daring and marvellous. What started as a kernel of an idea germinated into an event that involved every single pupil and member of staff: a day designed to teach us how to be kind, compassionate and sharing,while having a barrel of laughs.

The logistics were handled with dazzling expertise by Mr T, who managed the whole project with just a packet of his favourite Post-it notes, a set of risk assessment forms, and a rush of contagious enthusiasm. No, our Mr T, not the guy from the TV cult series The A-Team. Ours is much better. We should send him in to sort out the fiasco that is Heathrow's Terminal Five. He'd have that airport running smoothly in no time.

Dodgeball, football, treasure hunts and penalty shoot-outs. Wild-sling skittles, cup and ball, dance-mat competitions, and apple bobbing - you name it, we organised it. Or rather, the pupils did. The staff allowed themselves to be ritually humiliated for charity in games such as University Challenge. Trust me, as a team captain it is much harder when you have to try to answer with a finger on the buzzer than shouting the answers at the telly. Or else, colleagues dressed up and sang. I use that term loosely when applied to some efforts. We even had a talent show, displaying an amazing range of hidden expertise from magic to Indian drumming, contortionists and comedy chefs.

The whole afternoon was like a mix of The Generation Game and Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. Except there was a lot more sugar. At break, the sports hall was turned into what resembled a sugar addict's palace. On sale were home-baked delights such as doughnuts, meringues, chocolate brownies, liquorice sticks, popcorn and humbugs - and that was just what I ate.

Not all learning and teaching takes place in the classroom. Yet how often do we get the chance to put this to the test? Not often enough. We spent most of the day enjoying ourselves, playing outside or gathered in the hall or theatre, sharing laughter and raising money. All this from what the New Statesman has labelled the biggest threat to national security since 911: today's youth. Did we make the headlines? No we didn't. Why not? Because good news about our nation's youth giving to others appears not to be newsworthy these days. Shame.

Julie Greenhough, Teacher at a boys' secondary in London.

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