Our genius and somewhat eccentric tutor threw his proverbial ‘toys out of the pram’ today. After arriving around 45 minutes to an hour late again, he first asked if we had all completed our character re-writes. When he walked in it was clear he was spoiling for a fight. You could almost see the dark clouds around his shoulders. ‘Ok, who has not done their re-writes?’ A few brave ones shyly half raised one hand.
Miraculously, I had actually done my re-write. I had composed it inside ‘Children’s World’ play centre which is where I took the kids out of sheer guilt yesterday afternoon after returning from my ‘school’ late as usual. The atmosphere was not conducive for writing due to the loud, cloying sung nursery rhymes blaring from a speaker system over ridden by piercing screams in a huge echoing room with a play frame covered in primary coloured plastic constructed in the centre. However, I was on track. I thought I had done my best, though in retrospect I learned that it wasn’t very good and rather missed the point of the exercise. Our furious tutor spewed vitriol about the fact that we were not ‘artists’ dabbling at our craft and that writing was a discipline and why bother to teach anything if no one was willing to put in the slightest effort. By now I was thinking, now hang on a minute! ‘I’m leaving’ he announced. ‘I am leaving you all for at least one hour to complete an assignment that you should have given at least two good hours to yesterday.’ Now, I could feel anger and frustration prickling up on the nape of my neck. I admit to being a little late on the first morning and being a little stupid on continuing to pick the wrong table, taking too much time to find where I should be, but damn it we were giving up our time too and I wasn’t going to sit in a classroom watching people doing their homework for another wasted hour! Our tutor was out of the door and heading down the stairs: ‘And what about the people who did their assignment!’ I called out after him, trying not to sound too squeaky. He took some steps back toward the classroom door waggling his finger, ‘Well now you see! You can all see how some failing to do their work has a direct impact on all of you! You should be working as a team and some members have let the others down. Now you can all see this!’ ‘So what do we do?’ another asked. We were reduced to begging. At this point I was considering going home.
Fortunately the storm seemed to be clearing and our tutor began to soften. In conciliatory tones he asked those who had done the assignment to come and sit outside to do some reading. It was a sunny morning afternoon. I was getting the impression that one of the things he was angry about was the sterile classroom environment. Later we divided into small groups to critique our re writes as the tutor bounced from group to group handing out his wisdom in short, precious snatches. It was a little unsatisfactory but less laboured than twenty people commenting on each piece.
Last night I considered that all my constructive criticisms had been about splitting hairs and not particularly helpful. Everyone must hate my lame imput: ‘A jungle of shelves?’ is that correct, are shelves not by definition ordered? ‘Acrid smell of books’ do they really smell? ‘Slimy snake?’ they don’t really leave slime do they?