You must agree; after lunch is not really the best time to have the pleasure of a bottom maths set of adolescent teenagers in their last year of school, but that’s how it was.
A sort of mutual grudging respect replaces any form of genuine topic engagement amongst the mix of low achieving intelligent malcontents, time servers and genuine strugglers. Survival mode might be the most sensible option, but there is an expectation that some learning is require with evidence available for scrutiny.
I could turn into an entertainer and dazzle them with my prowess. I could just engage in a social ramble circling an issue looking for the maths. Nope, I settle for a bit of actual teaching and encouragement trying to link the maths with relevance to the world they inhabit.
Over time most of these students morph into a composite. Simon lives on, rooted in the moment. His usual seat was back left hand with a sort of exclusion zone. There was no particular reason other than he didn’t quite fit into this particular crowd and he seemed content. He belonged to the small intelligent ‘can’t be arsed’ cohort who only engage when something ‘amuses’ them. Evidently my rising frustration with a protagonist, a sort of ‘Neil from The Young Ones’ character, but without Neil’s charm, had pervaded Simon’s ennui. A small movement in my peripheral vision told me he had engaged ‘first gear’. Nothing to be alarmed about. ‘Neil’ was far more pressing. ‘Neil’ was the antithesis of Simon and occupied the other right hand corner of the room.
I can’t remember why or how, but I had reached escalation, got into my stride and having a ‘jolly good’ targeted shout designed to take out ‘Neil’ and sufficient to be heard in the adjacent classroom.
At this point the genius that is Simon looks up, my radar clocks him and before I can launch further salvoes, he says in a calm ‘parental’ voice sufficient to gain everyone’s attention.