Tuesday, January 12, 2010

... The Second Day

Incidents on the second day of being a child again.

***

It's true that grownups like nice weather too, but they only think and ponder over it while we, it seems, drink it in. Grownups too, like a bright morning, but for us, it is frozen wine - it's as if we were made drunk by it.
When I was a grownup and I saw snow, I already anticipated the slush. I felt the damp overshoes and wondered whether there would be enough coal for the winter. And joy, it was there too, but sprinkled somehow with ashes, dusty and grey.
But now, there are thousands of sparks inside me. It's as if someone sprinkled diamond dust in my soul and along the ground.

***

It's a stern punishment - the corner. I'm weak; sitting in the seat bothered me; I leanded back; I couldn't sit straight. Now I have to stand.

***

It's a pity that the wonderful game was spoiled so.
Wonderful?!
How meager is man's language. But then, what can you say?

***

How many windows are we allowed to break in a year? You say, not a single one? That's absurd! You don't believe that yourself.
Glass was supposedly invented by the Phoenecians. And how is it that after so many hundreds of years nothing more durable was invented?

***
(My FAVOURITE one!)

When I am a teacher again... For example: on such a day of the first snow, I'll suddenly clap my hands during the lesson and say: "Everyone remember what he was thinking just at this very moment. Who's ashamed to tell, let him say that he doesn't want to, so there shouldn't be any constraint."
It doesn't work out at first. But I'll be trying it frequently - as soon as I notice the class isn't paying attention.
And one-by-one:
"What were you thinking? And you?"
If someone says that he was thinking about the lesson, I'll ask:
"You aren't making it up, are you?"
If someone laughs and I see that he does not want to tell, I'll say:
"Maybe you don't want to say it in front of everyone. Then whisper it in my ear or else, I'll write it down during recess."
And they say: "Why does the teacher want this?"
"I want to write a book about school," I'll answer. "I want everyone to be convinced that you can't always pay attention during a lesson. Maybe the recesses should be longer in winter, or maybe o nice days pupils tire more quickly. Many people write books about school. And each time something new is introduced, to make it better for the pupil and the teacher. Because, one day, you will finish school and go your way, but we go to school our whole life."
And my pupils are greatly surprised because it never occurred to them at all that teachers go to school too, and spend many hours there. We're all going to suggest things that we'd like to see changed. I'll tell them that teachers suffer most from sore throats and nerves. And why we are nervous.
And after everyone relates honestly what he was thinking during the lesson, I'll joke:
"Now all those who were not paying attention will get a zero"
"O-o-o, just look how shrewd the teacher is!"
And I: "It isn't nice to say that the teacher is shrewd."
While they, "And why not?"
And so, I explain. And again: "Maybe I should give zeroes to those who were paying attention?"
Some start to yell: "Yes, yes, yes!"
While others: "Why us? We were paying attention!"
"You weren't paying attention though" I'll say.
"Why?"
"Because today is the first day of snow and you don't even notice it!"
"But snow isn't the lesson."
"Then maybe I shouldn't give any zeroes today"
"Neither today nor anytime"
"But it's difficult without zeroes"
"But a zero is awful"
"And to give zeroes is awful too. A teacher would rather give hundreds"
"Then let him"
"But is that allowed?"
And we'll banter this way until the bell.

***

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Notes from "When I am Little Again" - The first day

Gems that I want to remember forever. This is a book where the narrator becomes little and recalls when he was big. Memories of forgotten childhood feelings awaken within.

***
And everyone is again staring at me. And the teacher is looking too. Marylski nudges me in the back" "What happened?" I don't answer and he again asks: "What did the principal say to you?" I'm angry. Why is he bothering me? What business is it of his?
"Marylski, no talking, please." the teacher comes to my rescue. Evidently, she wanted to leave me in peace too. She sees that I'm troubled and so, for a whole hour, she doesn't call on me to recite.
And so, I'm sitting and thinking. I have lots to think about. I'm not listening; I don't know what they are talking about. .. I'm worse than deaf. Because I don't hear and I don't see either. I don't even pretend that I know. The teacher could see at once that I'm not paying attention. She must be a good person, because another would have gone into a rage. Now I understand that when something goes badly for a child, then other things pile right on top of him, one after another. He suddenly loses confidence in himself. And it really ought to be that when someone is crying, another should praise, encourage and console.
.
.
.
The hour flew by quickly. If I'm going to be a teacher again, I'll never bother a child who has a worry. I'll leave him alone to think; let him calm down and rest.

***

The bully picked a fight with me. What would the principal say, if, by chance, he walked by now? Ofcourse I would be blamed. I had already gotten into trouble once before and now, again. Now he'll remember me. And if anything happens in the future, he'll be suspecting me immediately. Because I am a trouble maker.
When I was a teacher, I used to say the same thing.

***

It seems to me that children often work under this spell, only others disturb them and interfere. For instance, you are relating something, or reading, or writing, and it turns out well. Or else, you understood the assignment immediately. Or else you make a mistake, only it is very, very small, and here, they instantly interrupt and tell you to correct it, to repeat it, to add something; they explain. And all at once, everything is lost. You're annoyed and you don't feel like working anymore, and it doesn't turn out well.

***

She closed my book and placed it carefully in front of me on my desk. Carefully and precisely.
I immediately had this thought that if I would be a teacher again, I wouldn't throw the children's notebooks on the desks, nor would I make corrections on their papers with heavy marks, or in such a way that the ink would splatter all over. I would handle their notebooks as carefully and precisely as she did just now.

****

The watchman lights the lamp on the stairs. He sees us and starts chasing us away. "What are you doing here in the dark? Hurry off, home!"
And he looks around suspiciously as if, for certain, we were doing something we were supposed to. He probably thought we were smoking cigarettes because there was a match on the ground. First he looked at it and then at us in turn.
Maybe it only seems so to us, but distrust is an awful thing. And grownups are even in the habit of taking this opportunity to correct us on other things. If they don't happen to notice anything then it is alright. but if they should see something then it is always : "Button yourself up; why are your shoes covered with mud? Did you do your homework? Show me your ears. Trim your fingernails."
And litle by little, this teaches us to avoid, to hide - even if you haven't done anything bad. And if they should glance at us accidentally, then we immediately wait for some comment from them. Maybe that's why we don't like teacher's pets. Maybe he isn't really a teacher's pet, but rather because he mingles with grownups too freely; he isn't afraid of their glances and so, appears to be in agreement with them.
When I was a teacher, I did the same thing. It seemed to me then that it was a good thing that I noticed everything and commented on every little thing. But now, I think differently: a child ought to feel at ease when you look at him. And if you really want to say something to him, then it shouldn't appear that it occurred to you accidentally but, rather, that you really want to tell him something.

***