It may not be so great a boast as Frankenfurter’s promise that “in just seven days I will make you a man” but the idea of producing a teacher in six weeks is spectacular nonetheless. By any definition of the term, it will be a crash course.

A samizdat has been circulating among the refuseniks of Lowbottom disclosing the brutish schedule to which the best and brightest will be subjected:

Clerical Work 101

The student teacher (accelerated model) is introduced to the skill on which all others depend — proficiency with the photocopier. You will never in six weeks master this massive piece of technology which looks like it should be able to do everything from making the coffee (it can’t) to powering a space shuttle launch (we await the pioneer in this area), your best strategy is to attach yourself to that teacher who knows all there is to know about this vexing machine. In this unit, you will learn to look for the person in the common room who has cut out the sudoku in the daily paper and carries it around with him during the course of the day.

Demarcation 105

You will be told by idealists that a school rises and falls on its collegiate spirit. Not a bit of it. A school resembles a medieval hinterland wherein city-state rivals city-state. Every faculty is like a walled hilltop town and woe betide the trespasser. Similar rules operate within faculties. Got your eye on teaching a juicy Yr 12 subject? You are likely to discover that this is a sinecure bestowed on a long-serving teacher who considers it his private demesne. In this unit you will learn not to betray your interest too readily lest the condottieri be despatched to despatch you.

Extracurricular Activities 119

This might sound like Period 7 down the rubbidy-dub or certain ferreting activities in the art storeroom. Sad to report it is neither. You don’t just teach. This is such an important maxim that it bears repeating. You are not just a teacher but also a debating mentor, sports coach, excursion supervisor, work experience supervisor, recycling monitor, newsletter editor — anything, in fact, that the principal class asks you “volunteer” for. In this unit, the student teacher will learn myriad-tasking.

Institutional subversion 123

The student teacher will soon find that survival amongst one’s fellows depends on an ability to question authority in such a way that marks the questioner as one of the tribe without seriously threatening violent overthrow. The particular skill is to be able to come across as subversive without being a whining pain in the arse. You will learn in this unit that prefacing any remark with “My Year 9s” will mark you as a twat while a verbal sally beginning “I see Dear Leader has instituted another reform” is likely to see you included in the Friday night shout.

Thick skin 142

Got an aversion to being called a c-nt? Break out in hives when your personal defects are loudly remarked upon? A staff common room can be a confronting place, but it is nothing compared to the classroom. Students of this unit will be subjected to abuse on a daily basis as a vital part of their training.

Onward and upward, class of 2009. May you prosper in adversity.

Peter Fray

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