Pastoral carer for hire

15th October 2004 at 01:00
This new classroom is like a cell. It is small and dim and lacks windows.

Thirty odd tots sit ticking boxes. They are doing diagnostic tests. These make them bored and me angry. They look trapped. I feel trapped.

I gaze beyond the classroom at the burnished trees in the falling autumn light. Our school has the most gorgeous gardens in London - with arbours and fountains and ponds and peacocks. And as I gaze out on those pastoral shades I dream of a more pastoral role where I could meet children not targets - meet them outside classroom and curriculum.

I could be the school gardener.

I've got previous experience - and my Cubs' badge in weeding. I've won prizes for marrows. It is time to cultivate that garden. I'll have much more control of a garden than of my timetable or curriculum or interactive whiteboards... or Dave Mania. You plant things and they ripen in autumn. That doesn't always happen with the Year 10.

While my poor chums are toiling with targets I'll be pruning the roses.

They'll be dozing in a twilight workshop. I'll be chillin' in the potting shed. They'll be driven by the pips. I'll be consulting the sundial.

They'll be battered with jargon. I'll be surrounded by birdsong.

I'll still meet my pupils. I'll be providing solace for those fleeing the national curriculum. Decibelle could finally shut up or frolic in fountains. Cordelia could have Socratic dialogues under Philosophic shades.

Dennis Plum could jump in a pond. Dyslexics could write haiku under dappled boughs. I could have my crack squad of horticultural hooligans.

Even Dave Mania could join us. No more bunking. No more dodgy transactions with Zoom and Midget. No more sitting on a wall under the Westway until his mum gets home. He'll be chillin' under green shades or taming nature with a chainsaw. Dave could stop lawns growing just by staring at them.

Teaching would improve. We would explore the English pastoral tradition hands on. Chaucer and his daisies. Wordsworth and his interactive daffodils. As for Marvell - we'll have laurels, sundials, melons, and peaches. Our garden would be a sanctuary, a learning emporium and a Pleasure Dome.

I gaze out on Keatsian mists in the falling autumn light... "Eh sir! You've gone! Time to pack up!"

I collect the wretched tests. Plum has ticked the lot. Mania has drawn Spiderman.

I'll get that gardening application in tomorrow.

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