Indulge their inner elf

21st December 2012 at 00:00

Educational publishers, form an orderly queue: I am on the brink of producing the ultimate Christmas resource - "1,001 Ways to Use the Film Elf in the Classroom". Yes my friends, towards the end of the longest term, when the generous well of teaching finally runs dry, there is always time for Will Ferrell's Crimbo-tastic classic.

Admittedly, I have thus far struggled to find the full 1,001 uses ("Use #27 - Spanish: Show them Elf dubbed into Spanish with English subtitles"; "Use #28 - French: Show them Elf dubbed into French"). But the pedagogic muse is more evident elsewhere. For example, "Use #308 - PSHE: Discuss the challenges of living in a modern extended family with an elven identity crisis". When opening their offering from the staffroom Secret Santa, what teacher could wish for more?

But sadly, the tradition of teachers and their classes up and down the land closing the blinds, getting out the popcorn and embracing our square-eyed culture must surely be under threat. Very soon, we might look back with misty-eyed nostalgia on the days when whole faculties flickered with the delights of The Muppet Christmas Carol.

So what makes me think that change is afoot? Instinct. It seems only logical that, as I type, Ebenezer Gove and his acolytes are very likely on the verge of snipping the final pair of baubles off the staffroom Christmas tree. If you took all the lesson plans that are abandoned by slack teachers in the final week before Christmas and laid them end to end, you would have a paper trail longer than the Great Wall of China. If you piled up all of the unmarked exercise books, they would stretch not only to the Moon but way beyond. So be warned: from 2013, expect "proper" teaching to go on right up to that final, blessed end-of-term bell.

Actually, a blanket term-time ban on festivities may come as something of a relief to the more jaded members of the teaching profession. There are only so many times we can be faced with classes baying for seasonal entertainment as if their lives depended on it.

"OK, OK, Year 9, there are two options. One (waves a stained plastic wallet in the air): this dull and tired educational resource with a vaguely festive theme that I'm calling 'a game' to make it sound faintly appealing. Two (face brightens): a really hip, hilarious and newly released DVD that may not seem Christmassy but does have a snow scene and also happens to be rated 15, thereby promising some mild to strong language of a violent or sexual nature."

It should be a no-brainer. For most classes, however, merely the word "game" leads to the kind of mindless hysteria that would be matched only by the announcement that One Direction are headlining the final assembly. If you find yourself in this situation, the threat of a repeat test essay on the Schlieffen Plan is usually enough for them to see it your way.

So there we have it for another year: Merry Christmas, everyone. Oh, and if you're unfortunate enough to get me in the Secret Santa, a bottle of Baileys and a straw will do just fine while I devise the remaining 998 uses for Elf.

Craig Ennew teaches English at a secondary in the South of England.

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