Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bang bang bang

I had a long day on Thursday. So far my Thursday classes have been easy, or at least not unmanageable, and generally everything has been going well. But on Thursday things got complicated by the university's clever decision to demolish some old bicycle sheds. Since these sheds ran the length of the building I was working in, right past the classrooms, we had large machinery practically coming in the windows all morning, along with the cheerful sounds of ripping corrugated iron and a lot of accompanying bangs and crashes and swearing, and in the afternoon the workmen used chainsaws to make the bits small enough to fit on the large trucks which then arrived with their noise. Being only one floor up meant that we got the brunt of all this.

When I had to give a test that included some dictation I was under strict instructions to read each line only twice, but I decided NEVER MIND THE INSTRUCTIONS. I read everything about fifteen times at high volume, hoping the students would be able to fill in the gaps over the roar of machinery and screeches of ripping metal, and between the crashes, bangs, and shouts coming from about three metres outside the window. It was all very silly, and probably not educationally very sound.

There was an upside, though. (There is always an upside.) My students had really unusual lessons. They were focussed. They learned to listen very, very carefully while watching my lips. They learned to shout very loudly, in English. "PARDON? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I taught them to shout. They got a lot of practice with that, and seemed to enjoy it.

Also, a feeling of camaraderie was fostered in the classroom. We stared hopefully at each other when the machines fell silent, and rolled our eyes collectively when they started up again after ten seconds. We shouted uselessly and shook our fists at the window. It wasn't just me getting frustrated and annoyed. We were all in it together. When things went quiet at one point, and then suddenly a workman sneezed loudly right outside the window, we all jumped, and some of us shrieked slightly. We had become a cohesive group by that time, and it was a cohesive group jump and shriek. Then we had a cohesive group laugh about it.

So it was a tiring and frustrating sort of day, but at the same time it was a fun and unexpected sort of day. In fact on balance, despite all my complaining, I suppose it wasn't really all that bad.

Absurd, but not all that bad.


Keera Ann Fox said...

I'd definitely say it wasn't bad. Anything that brings a bunch of people together in shared sympathy and laughter is good.