While we wait for the Mao suits to be delivered and stocks of the Little Red Schoolbook disinterred for distribution in the Education Revolution, staff members have been exhorted to discard Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas.

We at Lowbottom High have already been summoned by bells to the lower oval where a hecatomb was made of corrupting cultural symbols. Thus did we witness consumed by cleansing fire fifty years of sporting pennants which latterly served to bedizen and bedeck the corridors.

Humanities staff, it must be said, did not appear altogether grieved. Student artwork too, treasured these many years, was piled upon the bonfire (with rather more enthusiasm than was perhaps necessary) or smashed with an abandon that was at odds with our charter to foster and to nurture.

With the flames still licking reams of old copies of Education Age and Premier’s Reading Challenge certificates, gangs of teachers were dragooned into planting root vegetables in the soccer pitch or scrubbing the jakes, the place of easement, the anathematised Downtown Calcutta.

Of course, like the favoured denouement of a Year Seven essay, it could all have been a ghastly dream.

Whatever it is, it makes you wonder at the phenomenon of student teachers who have latterly descended in such numbers as to suggest that young folk are breaking down the school gates for the privilege of shining a lantern into the darkness. That for many the teaching life is worth, if you will, the candle.

Of course, after their first lesson the trainees soon assume the crash position. If they have encountered either Tarquin or Vulnavia they will require actual CPR.

Surely, their eyes plead, this is not the sum of it? Too right it is.

And when the Education Revolution fans out from Beijing-on-the-Molonglo, they will be first to be marched off to re-education camp. We need not be so smug. On their return the re-educated will become our tormentors. You are shit, they will scream. Your degrees and your history count for nothing. Plus can change…

Peter Fray

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