Bounce your brain

4th March 2005 at 00:00
It's Oscars time again, and every year it occurs to me how teaching is like being trapped in a badly edited film. Well, think how often your train of thought is cut to ribbons on the average day.

Now, in film editing, there is something called a "jump cut". This is an edit that doesn't make sense. If you're watching a scene with a woman buying cheese and suddenly you're looking at killer whales, that's a jump cut.

Your average lesson is full of mental jump cuts. Think about what this is like for the teacher:

"Right, class, when we last looked at Bottom, his ears ... " "Fuck off, bitch! Miss, she ..."

"It's MINE! Yours is purple ..."

"Okay, I'll have that, and you're both in detention on Thursday. You know you're not allowed them in school."

"Now, the First Fairy ..."

"Donkey! Donkeys ..."

"That's not FAIR! She ..."

"Not now! Yes, Shereen, they were donkeys' ears, or strictly speaking ..."

"What page are we on?"

"Fifty - those of an ass, which are slightly more ..."


"SILENCE! Leave your bags. You two come with me. NOT THAT WAY! Through the ..."

"Miss, I'm not feeling well."

I used to worry about the long-term effects of this constant splintering of our mental world. Would I wake up one day under a mound of sentence-endings? Hmm ... That idea I don't mind so much. The permanently unfinished sentence in which a teacher lives is the grammatical equivalent of coitus interruptus, and arguably even more annoying. So perhaps finishing every sentence would bring a kind of peace.

No, what bothered me far more was that you might just lose the plot. Would you see coloured shapes before your eyes, mocking you as they span happily off, clutching in tiny claws whatever it was you were talking about?

Well, I don't think so. Now I just tell myself that the classroom is a cognitive pentathlon. Teachers have some of the most agile yet focused brains in the country. Others are sent ricocheting off course by a cough or a fly, or even a coughing fly. We can hold fast to our shining filament of thought, though all about us run mad.

You should be proud of what you do with your fantastic, bouncy brain, from hour to hour, from day to day. It's one of the most flexible, resilient and resourceful in the whole - ooh, yes, please, just one, with jam ...

Erm, wait, there was something I was supposed to tell you ...

What are these? Where are we? What's my name?

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