A lesson I won't firget in a hurry

All social anthropologists would agree that in marriage there are fierce domains, areas of expertise exclusive to just one of the two partners. No domain can ever be challenged, and if these boundaries are respected, then the marriage flourishes like a fine flower.

One of my many myriad domains is NBA basketball. My wife respects this towering skill, and would never engage me in conversation on it for fear she would be humiliated into a coma.

Her domain is teaching. I tiptoe towards this domain knowing that if she senses me approaching, she will put her hands down my throat and tear out my lungs. As a consequence, I have spent my entire life staying well clear.

Every time the topic of teaching or education comes up, I blink like a fish trying to understand Schrodinger's Cat.

Until last week. A friend at Kaikorai Valley College, let's just call him Steve, asked if I would come and talk to his year 13 media studies class on Flying Nun music. He was hoping they would have a bunch of questions.

It was simply too tasty a meal to send back to the kitchen. But I kept it tight to my chest until the night before.

"Wife," I asked, "how many periods are you teaching tomorrow?" "Four," she replied.

I stretched my arms languidly and yawned.

"Oh," I replied. "It's a fairly quiet day for me, I just have the one." "What?" "Just the one," I said. "An easy day." "What?"

It was pointless continuing the conversation. And yet I felt compelled to keep the waterwheel turning.

"I can't remember which school it was that rang, I will have to check my file."

We were at war now. Full disclosure was demanded, and full disclosure I gave.

"I make no bones about this, I have been head-hunted by a school with a different name from yours," I said.

"Kaikorai Valley High. It's kosher, they're on Google. But it's only teaching. Not so much a walk in the park as lying down on a sofa IN the park, with coffee pavlova brought to me on a plate."

My wife's eyes had gone black and thin. She was breathing with a hissing sound I could only compare to the hissing sound of someone whose eyes were black and thin.

"The reason our school has not asked you to come and talk to us is because you are an idiot," she said.

It was a small class. Fifteen percent of them were in Sweden, which is a clever way of saying there were only six. This seemed like a sensible pupil-teacher ratio. I wondered why Anne Tolley preferred 35 to 1.

I wondered briefly about control. When I was at school, if we misbehaved, we were caned until we bled. I looked around behind the desk.

No cane. Steve must be one of them wussy liberal teachers.

I babbled for a while, Steve translating historically incomprehensible terms like 12in EP, things Flying Nun were releasing long before these kids were born.

There wasn't much feedback. No questions. It was time to pull out my master story.

"You know, Shayne Carter went to this school," I said.

"When his band Bored Games played in the school talent quest, the headmaster walked out of the auditorium. A year later, Bored Games entered again. And the headmaster walked out again. Shayne Carter is now in the New Zealand Rock Music Hall of Fame."

I waited for the incredulous gasps. Nothing. I mean, this was a hell of a story. But they didn't know who Shayne Carter was.

"How did it go, sweetie?" asked my wife when she got home.

"A piece of pie," I replied. "I don't know where all this fuss about teaching comes from." "How many in the class?" she asked.

"Wife, I was educating tomorrow's leaders, not counting them."

Bwahahahah! She hurrumphed and turned on The Weakest Link. She didn't want to talk about NBA basketball.

Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

 

 

 

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