Flippin' Flipper

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Take the troublemaker out of the classroom and you merely take the trouble somewhere else, as Kate discovers this week.

Dear Bex,

I made the rookie's error of booking a school trip to the local oceanarium without weeding out the Evil Ones first. The aim was to practise simile and metaphor with Year 7 (pretty creative I thought I imagined my brood of spotty pubescents undergoing a sort of effortless artistic flowering as they witnessed the myriad ways it's possible to glide, slosh and float). But 15 minutes later I had Gavin Baxendale in solitary confinement in the fish and chip restaurant.

"Why did you try and punch the dolphin?"

"I didn't try and punch the dolphin."

"I saw you try and punch the dolphin."

"I didn't punch it it was more of a slap."

I sighed.

"You can't slap a dolphin."

"It was looking at me funny."

"Of course it was looking at you funny. It has eyes on the side of its head. You might as well head-butt a lobster for flipping you the bird."

For one dangerous moment, I realised Gavin was giving this suggestion serious consideration.

"Listen, I think you've got a problem with anger management. When we get back to school we'll get you help. Proper help. Counselling..."

"What about the dolphin?"


"Well it's not like there's only one side to this story, Miss."

"Gavin. Get outside."

He tried to make a last ditch dash for the eel tank but Gemma, the TA, restrained him. I marched back into the main hall expecting carnage, but instead found flotillas of studious Year 7s scribbling quietly into their books.

"OK does anyone want to read me what they've written?" I breathed, gradually ingesting the atmosphere of calm. The next half-hour developed into a helpful discussion on the difference between "he punched like..." and "he punched as...". Nothing like a bit of personalised learning eh?

I hope the dolphins are safer on your side of the Pacific.

Love Kate x

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