9 November 2010


It's approaching eighteen months since I last worked in a school. It feels rather strange returning to the fray. However, in the old days, as a Head of English, I regularly put in sixty hours a week, living and breathing the job like a hamster on a wheel. Now, in contrast, I am just a visiting tutor, signed up to work with eight individual children in two different schools. Okay there'll be preparation to do and the usual tiresome form-filling but from sixty hours I'm down to perhaps ten hours a week. Easy peasy. My Sri Lanka fund.

I won't mention the contrasting schools by name. Let's call one Asylum and the other Eden. Last Friday, I was in the entrance foyer of Asylum at lunchtime waiting for my tutee. Two small boys - about eleven years old - began to perform some kind of impromptu street-dancing routine. The weasly, undernourished one span on his skull with no other support before falling over in a fit of manic laughter. He remained supine in the foyer, even as a young bearded teacher towered over him bellowing futilely: "Get up! Get up! How many more times do I have to tell you? Get up!"

And there I was, leaning against a wall adorned with clip-framed awards but I didn't give a fig. It wasn't my place to sort those silly billy boys out as I would once have done. I was waiting for my tutee and when he arrived we'd be going to work in the library for an hour. That's all. No other commitment required.

Over at Eden, the atmosphere is much calmer, more professional. Waiting in the swish business-like reception area, I noticed that parents who arrived were better-dressed than those I observed at Asylum. They weren't visiting about discipline issues but simply dropping by to bring forgotten homework projects in, ingredients for cookery or mislaid P.E. kits and they didn't smell of cheap cigarettes. I know my judgements are only based on snapshots but though these two schools are only two miles apart they seem a world away from each other.

At lunchtime today, I visited "The Angel" in the suburban village of Woodhouse. While I waited for my lunch to arrive, I organised the various papers I'd accumulated over the previous six days and considered future tutoring activities. Outside, rain sheeted down from a leaden sky. Shortly, a beautiful plate of homemade food arrived - liver and onions, mashed potato, boiled cabbage and peas. I relished every mouthful and recalled a thousand packed lunches I'd consumed while working busily at my desk in those unmourned days gone by when I seemed to run faster each year without really getting anywhere.


  1. Ah, I wondered how the tutoring job was going. Good luck with it.

  2. They've got you in the end!

    BTW, blog now reopened to all:


  3. sorry boothyinbkk- far more pretentious...

  4. Must be quite a relief not to have the permanent ties.

  5. An interesting comparison of the schools/students/parents, YP. It's amazing what a few thousand yards of separation can do. I hope your tutees, their parents and the school officials are appreciative of your efforts.

    I would gladly have joined you at The Angel for lunch; liver and onions. well prepared, is high on the list of my favorite foods.

  6. Better you than me! When I listen to the conversation of my still teaching pals I am horrified. Things are getting worse in class rooms here and less and less is being "Taught". It's all about engaging students so they are having fun but not actually achieving any learning as far as I can see - and with a multitude of kids suffering from Autistic -like disorders ( ASD is the current rage !)the education of all the other children is taking a backseat.
    Glad to be out of it!

  7. At least you're keeping busy, earning a little money, dreaming of Sri Lanka...

    "Tutee" is a new word to me, but it makes sense. Spin/span/spun, not so much.

    Perhaps I need tutoring in English myself. Can you work me into your schedule?

  8. BANNED-COCK BOOED I tried your new web address but couldn't access the site. Some kind of joke?
    ELIZA Being a permanent fixture in a regimental system never sat happily with me. I just tolerated it all.
    PAT ARK Glad to have discovered another liver and onions addict. Can't wait for my next fix. See you in "The Angel" real soon.
    HELSIE I know where you are coming from Helen but breezing in to work with individuals in a quiet room is a very different ball game. It also pays quite well.
    RHYMES WITH... Oh sir you are too modest. Clearly, you are fascinated by language and demonstrate a very high level of literacy each time you post. You don't need tutoring. Try an "n" instead of a "t"!

  9. Having known a large flock of boys since kindergarten and followed them all the way to the present (they're now adults) I see no connection to the quality of their schooling and whether they have become successful adults or not. This could either be a distressing thing, if you work in education and your goal is to give everyone a quality education, or a comforting thing. As a 4-H leader, I got to work with the kids after school and on weekends and found that the less academic kids were good at finding their own ways to learn, even when the material I gave them to work with was way beyond what they were doing in school. I don't know what the answer is. The Waldorf School Bob ended up in seemed to work best. At least it gave the kids a sense of family and social responsibility and didn't make them sick to death of "learning." There's no bureaucracy there that puts itself between the teachers and their students. I know so many great teachers who love teaching, love kids, but hate their jobs. It's sad. Have fun with your tutoring, YP. Tutoring really does help, even those who seem to use their little rock heads only to spin upon.

  10. Tunoring? Nunoring? Oh, I get it..nutoring (neutering). Very funny! I am laughing so hard I cannot cee to tipe koreckly.

    Still, I would have said student instead of tutee....

  11. Be that as it may, I too am a liver and onions addict. As is Mrs. RWP. Perhaps I should say recovering addict, as we haven't had a fix in quite some time.

  12. www.boothyinbkk.blogspot.com, sorry.

  13. Elizabeth2:53 pm

    Boothy, your new blog won't let me comment, but just wanted to say it's good to hear you're ok - been thinking about you both in the recent floods; and...er...YP seems to have jobs on his mind a lot this week! x


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