What colour is your Friday?

14th May 2004 at 01:00
had road-tested some of my manky, mingin Itchy-Coo rhymes on them. I had made them laugh by reading accounts of my early days of teaching. They had heard my attempts at children's stories and not been impolite when subjected to a most ill-advised attempt to translate one into Scots.

I thus felt confident enough finally to run a serious poem past the members of my local writers' group. If they responded well, I intended to send the piece for consideration by Biggar's Brownsbank Committee in the hope that they would display it in the town's poetry garden.

"Volts are green," I read, trying to avoid a cliched poetry voice. "Green as the sea-snakes tracing across my oscilloscope screen . . ."

When I got to the end, there was silence. I decided to break it myself. "I got the idea for that one day when I was summarising the quantities used in electricity. I was writing each one in a different colour on the board and I realised I wasn't choosing the colours at random.

"Voltage is green to me. Power is yellow."

Nothing.

"It's like the way we give different colour to the days of the week. Monday is red for me, but Saturday is sky blue."

"Errr . . . do you do that? That's really weird . . . that's really interesting."

By this time the only thing I was ready to quote was The Fast Show's "I'll get me coat" line. I had assumed that everyone, to some extent, did the colour thing. My wife and two of my good friends certainly knew what I was on about but none of them were at the writers' group to back me.

If I have learnt one thing of value in my job, it is that we do not all think the same way and hence we do not all learn the same way. Moreover, most of us in teaching are success stories from a particular style of teaching and we can fall into the trap of thinking that what worked for us will work for everyone.

The problem with making such a statement is that the greyish blue "sit still, sit quiet, look at me and listen" brigade think it is just so much pinko psychobabble, while the multicoloured swap-shoppers from the auditory visualkinaesthetic gang have worked it out for themselves or have heard it all before.

Back at the writers' group, I have returned to playing safe with either prose or light verse. Professionally, though I am out of the classroom for a while, I will still advocate chasing the rainbow to anyone who will either listen or absorb the information in another preferred learning style.

Gregor Steele did get a poem in the poetry garden, but it was about a hearse.

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