“Miss, my dad wants to shaaag you”. This was the delightful response during’ Literacy Hour’ when I’d asked a pupil in my Year 6 class what a noun was! Incidentally this was during my PGCE training in Somerset. I lived in Bath at the time and I remember the area, the people and the children with so much fondness. I was on a long-term placement in a delightful school in deepest Somerset.
For a moment I struggled to respond to this lovely child. He was from a travelling family, very bright, fantastic sense of humour and was an incredibly beautifully looking child. The dilemma I faced inside was, his father, was, to put it bluntly, bloody fit! I was younger then and not bad-looking myself and admittedly quite flattered. It was tempting for a nano second to say, “Here’s my number love, pass it on to your dad”. But nooooo, professionalism prevails! Teachers don’t date, teachers don’t have a life and we certainly don’t have sex! Perish the thought!
My main distraction though was a crop circle that had ‘appeared overnight’. I so wanted my class to understand nouns and adjectives. I wouldn’t have minded a ‘shaaag’ (I so love their accents) either to be honest, but most of all, sad as it may seem, I was fascinated by the crop circle! I wanted most of all to see it and so did the children. It was in the field near the school. How on earth could I get crop circles into my lesson plans?
Well, after some thinking, about five minutes, I had concocted a plan. I was after all training to be a music teacher. That was my specialist subject! Music! Somerset! Vaughan Williams! Folk Music! Fairies! Crop Circles! Sorted! Innit!
Teachers always have lessons up their sleeves! We just do! We are expert ‘ad-libbers’. It’s part and parcel of the job and it’s a skill that’s immediately acquired whilst training. Survival of the fittest etc. I’d planned music for the afternoon and it just needed some quick adjustments (totally scrapping). I’d often played music to the children whilst they were completing tasks so I played them Vaughan Williams, Folk Songs From Somerset. “That’s right posh music Miss” was the initial reaction, until I reached for my guitar and sung, ‘Blow Away The Morning Dew’ to them. They were interested then. With further discussion and explanation about the oral tradition and folk roots etc. these children realised that they have a heritage to be proud of and a composer also thought that!
Somehow for some reason it was justified to walk those children out to see the crop circle. They told me how it had been created. “Maartians do ’em Miss”. “Faarmers make ’em they do so people come their farm”. “Oi think the fairies did them Miss”. Oh there were so many explanations. I personally have no problems believing them all.
I don’t care a bugger how they were made, they are magical. What was more magical was hearing little Somerset children in the playground for weeks later singing quietly;
‘And sing blow away the morning dew,
The dew and the dew,
Blow away the morning dew,
How sweet the winds do blow’
I never got the amorous attention from that father but I saw my first crop circle and witnessed a group of children open mindedly accept their heritage. OFSTED would no doubt have slated that lesson. There were no objectives other than be, feel, sing, accept and wonder! I am still contacted by students, young adults, parents, and they tell me how they sing a certain folk song to their own little children! That is surely an education?