The night my wonderwall came unstuck

26th March 2010 at 00:00

Monday morning is never good. It's even less good when the caretaker is waiting at the gates with a face like a constipated camel. He has the hump with someone and that someone is me. I know this because he requests "a word, Mr Eddison".

I look around in the forlorn hope that another Mr Eddison is following me up the drive.

He isn't.

"A word with me, Mr Camel?"

It turned out to be several words, none of which is repeatable here. In fairness I couldn't repeat them at the time either, because a large, calloused hand had me by the throat. While my face went through several shades of purple I was acquainted with the facts.

At precisely 1.27am on Sunday a large item of display mysteriously became detached from my classroom wall. Said item was instantly mistaken for an intruder by our highly sophisticated alarm system. Nanoseconds later the alarm system decided to pass on its concerns to Mr Camel. Mr Camel, having earlier returned from a mission to single-handedly halt the decline of the pub industry, was eventually awoken.

Obviously questions needed answering. Like what sort of alarm system can't tell the difference between a man in a mask with a bag marked "swag", and a large laminated guide to the correct use of time connectives?

And - from Mr Camel's perspective - what sort of idiot imagines four blobs of blue-coloured reusable plastic adhesive can persuade half a kilogram of poster to defy gravity?

I don't intend to slag off Blu-Tack - and not just because of the legal implications. Blu-Tack is the primary teacher's friend. Life without it is unimaginable. It is versatile, quick and easy to use. It has more applications than a Swiss Army knife. It is the opiate of the classes. It is methadone for those driven to desperation by a lack of pin-board space.

The demand on teachers to put up classroom displays has proliferated since the Workload Agreement said we no longer had to do them. This is because the humble classroom display has been reinvented.

It has become the all-singing, all-dancing Working Wall.

It is education, stimulation and consolidation in one aesthetically pleasing format. So much more than a display, the Working Wall is part of the teaching process itself; it is total learning; it even has its own little statement on my Preparing for Your Lesson Observation Checklist. It reads: "Did the classroom environment enhance learning?"

I briefly imagine Ofsted inspectors trundling along corridors disguised as Daleks: "There will be no escape from cognitive stimulation. Walls of learning will be initiated in every classroom. We require total education... Educate... Educate... Educate!"

I found it comforting to learn by the power of Google that Blu-Tack started out as a failure in the development of an industrial adhesive.

Apparently somebody in the offices of Bostik grew bored with sculpting waste lumps of it into tiny animals, breasts and male genitalia, and instead used it to stick annoying messages on walls. Or not, in my case.

Steve Eddison, Key stage 2 teacher, Sheffield.

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