Sunday, 29 January 2012


Teaching a class on Friday and it wasn't going very well. It's was pretty flat and the kids weren't really adding much to the discussions or questions we were having. Those lessons are hard work especially when you have already taught the same lesson three times that week and had better results.

The kids are writing a design specification for a mobile phone holder. The section in question was on the aesthetics of their product. It's pretty much laid on a plate for them so the first section says:

"The shape of the backboard of my mobile phone holder will be..."

I look at one boys booklet and he has written "Dad". I chuckle a bit and say "are you going to make your phone holder the shape of your dad?" The rest of the kids at the table burst out laughing at the thought of this and the boy is quick to stop them.

"No, no, no, not the shape of my dad I'm going to spell out the word dad in big letters and cut that out!"

"Oh right" I say. We have a bit of a laugh at the table and I think that maybe the lesson isn't going to be dry as a stick after all.

A few minutes later the class have stopped working and I am asking them what they have done. Another boy who is right next to the boy I have just talked about puts his hand up and says "sir I have an idea for my backboard!"

"Oh" I say, "is it the shape of your dad?"  A vain attempt to resurrect a pretty lame joke.

The boy goes totally silent and the rest of the class go "OHHHHHH!"

Suddenly a little unsure what's going on I ask him what his idea is.

He just looks at me then his eyes well up and the tears start.

"Sir his dad just died" the class tell me from all directions.

Ground swallow me up now.

Awful moment. Just awful. The boy now has his head on his hands on the desk and is crying and to compound the agony the rest of the class keep coming up to me one by one to tell me that his dad has died.

"Ok can everyone get on with their work and leave him alone he's really upset."

I apologised to the boy saying that I didn't know and that it was a crappy joke.


I've always been really careful when talking about the kids home lives. I never assume that they have a mum and dad at home or anyone really. I always say things like "whoever looks after you at home" or things like that.   The one time I forget and do something totally random like that and it goes massively wrong.

What. A. Clanger.

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