Not so easy to be full of wonder

11th June 2004 at 01:00
Our school has gone mad on Es. Don't get me wrong. It is not that the staff have all taken up raving at the weekends; it is all to do with our mission statement. Not modern enough and due for a revamp, it seems.

So now we are offering Es. That's E for "Enablement", E for "Enrichment" and E for "Entitlement". At least I think that is what they were for. There were at least seven.

It's all a bit overwhelming for a poor newly-qualified teacher lost in a sea of acronyms. As far as I can tell, it all started with this Excellence and Enjoyment idea. My lessons, I am told, are to be shot through with moments of awe and wonder for the children.

Since I teach in the foundation stage, this shouldn't be too hard - they are pretty awestruck by most things. Jenny was a "dinner" today. She's normally a "packed". It took them 10 minutes to calm down after that bombshell.

The element of wonder looms large every day. I wonder what the hell to do with them today? I wonder why I left my former job for this one? I wonder how to get all the lentils out of the glue?

My flatmates, arriving home at 2am, are likely to find me muttering suggestions for Es under my breath as I construct a rudimentary hot-air balloon in an attempt to add some excitement to the next day's lesson. Such as: "Exhaustion: teachers will be permanently knackered having sat up till 3am on any given night planning awe-inspiring lessons which the pupils will be unable to appreciate since they too will have been up till 3am watching zombie films loaned from an older cousin.

"Exaggeration: children will demonstrate impressive use of hyperbole at all times. The child who has fallen in the playground and grazed her knee will be reported at the staffroom door to be in a near-fatal state of shock caused by concussion, loss of limb and severe bleeding.

"Escapism: any member of staff with a faraway look in their eyes will claim to be pondering how to spend e-learning credits. They are, in fact, planning how they will spend their lottery win and the words they will use to resign."

Still, three classes were called outside to witness the flight of that hot-air balloon. Their eager little faces shone with excitement. I glowed inwardly as I congratulated myself on a few Es achieved. The balloon drifted - and caught in a tree. "Aaaawwww," wailed the children. And, as they traipsed back to the classroom, "I wonder how she'll get THAT down?"

Mission accomplished, then.

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