Sunday, October 17, 2004


On Wednesday I asked the 'community learning centre' at one of the universities to do some photocopying for me. They'd said they would do this, but I had been reluctant to ask. It's easy enough to do my own copying, usually, and also the job I wanted done wasn't one I really wanted to advertise. I had decided to read my community class a book, and since it is supposed to be a conversation class I was a bit worried they'd think I was shirking my duties. Also, there seems to be a tendency in universities to regard anything other than the classics as trivial nonsense and not real study. It's not unusual for students to spend an entire semester on a few paragraphs of David Copperfield. I didn't want to torture my students, and was planning something they might have half a chance of understanding and enjoying.

So I wasn't too sure what the reaction to this would be. It wasn't a classic, and it wasn't 'conversation' either. Oh, dear. Would they question my teaching methods? But I didn't have time to do the copies myself, so I went over and asked if they could do them for me.

The way they jumped to accommodate me made me wonder if they had enough to do. They asked what I wanted copied, and I explained that I wanted the first chapter of a novel copied for the adult class. I'd be reading it to the students, I explained, and wanted them to have a copy.

"A novel?" asked the Very Nice Boss of the centre (who had very nicely bullied me into taking this job). The secretary took the book from me, and I explained which pages I wanted. He hovered by, and when I'd finished explaining he held out his hand. "Can I see that?" he said.

Worried about his reaction, I explained that it was from level one of the series, and was intended for learners. I told him that I would be reading a chapter a week to the students, and we'd be discussing it afterwards. It was only a small part of the weekly lesson, I assured him. After all, it is supposed to be a speaking class, not a reading class. I didn't want him to think I'd be shirking my duties.

But he wasn't concerned about that at all. He inspected the book with great curiosity, checking out the front and back covers, and looking at the first page.

"What kind of novel is it?" he asked.

"Er, it's a thriller," I replied, somewhat anxiously.

"A thriller, eh?" he said. He looked intrigued, and got a funny little grin on his face. He started reading the first page.

I waited. He read.

"Er, is that all right?" I asked.

He jumped slightly and looked up. "Oh, yes, yes, yes, no problem!" he said. "We'll have it ready for you on Monday. Thank you!"

As I was leaving he sat down on the nearest available chair and turned the page.

I think I'm going to like my new boss. What a shame he's only my boss for that one class.