English: My dream lesson - All I want for Christmas ..

23rd December 2011 at 00:00
`Twas the night before Christmas and from somewhere in the house came the sort of scream you might hear from a teacher sitting, trying to decipher three pages of narrative, writes Steve Eddison

Except it isn't a teacher . It's Santa.

"It's this Christmas list," he explains. "I can't read it."

"Ah, that's James's handwriting," I tell him. "His `J' and his `S' are always reversed and his `M' always resembles a short but erect penis. He tends not to bother with vowels."

"Well, I have 321.3 million gifts to deliver and I can't waste time on illegible handwriting," the man in red retorts. "Why can't you teach children to write properly? Like they did in Victorian times ."

A moment later I am in a different place altogether. It's Christmas Eve, the schoolroom walls are bare and the window panes patterned with frost. I'm about to give a lesson.

I twirl my moustache, smile malevolently, and slam my cane on the table. "Now, children, on command one you will pick up your pen. On two you will dip it into your inkwell. On three you will copy out the alphabet. You will do this not once but again and again until every letter is perfect."

An hour later, several shivering children write "What I'd like for Christmas ." in perfect handwriting. And the only sounds are a faint tinkling of bells and the distant voice of Santa crying: "A Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Where to find it

Try trogfoot's activities for developing handwriting and motor skills. Look back at festive Victorian England, while developing students' writing with TES English's A Christmas Carol booklet.

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