1 Telling a story
20 Monday – the social week starts
21 Personal trainer for Sebi
1 Telling a story
I would like to tell a story. So not just any story or a single story. I would like to tell a story about the life as a teacher. One could say now: there is nothing to tell about the life as a teacher or that what is to tell, everyone already knows. Because everyone has a student life behind, therefore also knows, what happens in a teacher´s life. But stop right there!
Let me try at least to tell you something about the life as a teacher. Then these are many stories, different stories, which can or could happen to a teacher. Although, I admit, as a male teacher I do not know exactly everything that happens to the female teachers in their teacher´s life. And, in these stories do not happen much, considering that in a teacher´s normal life fortunately does not happen too many things. Or perhaps again, if we say happening means as much as occur, it fortunately does not happen either too much. But it happens natural a lot in a long teacher´s life with all changes, adaptations or innovations in the school and educational area. And the expression “of course“ is not correct now again, because what happens or occurs does not happen naturally, therefore, following the logic of the nature. It just happens or occurs, caused or instigated by students, parents, officials – or influenced by the teacher and initiated, or not.
Lets say this:
Scenes are to be described, moments illuminated, short stories told. Scenes, moments, and stories that are possible in a teacher’s life because they happened that way, occurred just like that, because they have taken place that way, may have occurred in this manner. Then it can also happen when writing that you bend your memories, as it is with what you believe you remember to have heard here and there.
It shall be told by the teacher, as a walker between the present worlds, but also the past worlds, rediscovered, newly discovered, the near and far. If you look back or ahead, reality sometimes takes on different faces, takes turns, makes decisions that you would not have expected.
This book project aims to encourage other teachers to write, to write about their life as a teacher and their teachers world, to encourage a biographical self-reflection in order to allow all non-teachers – and there are actually plenty – to get a picture of the environment of teachers. And who enters the environment of teachers, will not only discover new surroundings but will change the perspective of those worlds he thought to have known. And like one that returns from a journey into countries believed to be known, it will come back as another, will reinterpret its life against the horizon of these environments, that fate of real people, of teachers.
However, there will not be here narrated that from the environment what one might expect so privily from a teacher’s life. No stories between the female math professor and the Greek teacher play- are they still some there? -, So a passionless relationship story between Lady Pythagoras and Sir Archimedes. No story between the teacher Specht and his favourite student Clara. No tittle-tattle and gossip stories from school newspapers about the small and big slips of the tongue and mistakes in the school and teaching life.
What is left then? Enough! All the things that one does not suspect in the first moment behind a teacher’s life. And that sits often deep, sometimes never comes to light, very often is never talked about, certainly not written at all. And if it does, then it is irritating, there is frequently the laughing stock, sometimes it makes you maybe even quiet and thoughtful. It is also here a collection of real moments, truths and possible scenes and stories, all of which have something in common: That is the way it may have been. This is reality.
And whoever reads this and remembers his schooldays, his studies, his lectures and seminars, exams and performance records, can understand a bit of a life as a teacher, from the teacher´s perspective.
And then what? What do I want then?
Then you should sit down and write. Write about your life as a teacher, scenes from your life as a teacher. And the writing sends one to the website imlehrlauf.com. Because with the publication of individual texts on this website, will be achieved what I, as the author of these lines, actually wanted to accomplish: not only read and look through the keyhole! Neither enjoy the little misconduct of the colleagues! No: Everyone reaches for the pen, sorry, keyboard. Everyone holds it tight, what it is and was in their life as a teacher, what could have been possible. And others should see and be amazed by the many faces of being a teacher.
The 15 years of service have not left him without a trace. The frustration is there. The teacher is looking for school-external pleasure. In contrast to a manufacturing profession, he does not make anything new as a teacher or repairs it again. No wooden table, no piece of special wire, no seeds nor an animal intended for rearing are the starting point of his efforts. At the end of a month, his or her success or failure is not reflected in increased or decreased sales. No motivation boost through just increased sales, no motivational talks with the hiring manager for unachieved target values. No special award as the winner of an in-house sales or ideas competition. Nothing!
Gratitude, recognition or praise are not the categories of personnel development programs in school and pedagogical operations. At least they have not been. Today, in 2017, they have long since set in – in good schools, in modern educational institutions. Yes, it exists, the experienced and shown appreciation.
And before? Instead of thanks and praise and respect, the teacher is presented with a more or less well behaving or misbehaving small, medium or slightly older brat or a dreamer, with whom he should do something, accompanying it while maturing. To shape it him, to influence him, maybe to manipulate him, to make him of age. And it is not a brat or a dreamer or five; maybe it is a horde of brats. Why horde? Because the mob is on the move, slow or fast, loud or quiet, hungry and upset, but it can also be full and sluggish, because it can be reckless and brutal, but also affected, sensitive and affectionate.
But Woe YOU are affectionate! Woe YOU show a feeling! Woe you like this cheeky, blonde girl with the sparkling eyes or the small one, clumsy, chubby with the flat feet! Woe you do not like her!
„Good teachers can and will hide their feelings from the students,“ once said an author. Such a nonsense!
It is Monday, half past seven, the start of the Social Week with my class. Social Week, this is something like no longer repairing accessible footpaths, chopping off young forest, small spruces, bushes on the Alpine meadow, removing them, if possible, with roots. In short: working in nature, for or against her. And get to know the class as a social fabric. With everything that can happen on such even and uneven surfaces. Keyword: sustainability in removing the virgin young trees and so on in a similar way. I have to pick up the minibus, a minibus with nine seats, so I do the transport of the students. The other twelve travel with the Postbus to our farmhouse, which will accommodate us for a week. In an hour they will arrive at the station. I will wait for them. Earlier still in the school, a few sheets of paper, flipchart, colour pencils, moderation cards in yellow, green and blue. First of all, the rules for the Social Week have to be worked out in our weekly accommodation. Such a social fabric needs somehow order and structure, simply rules: develop democratic principles, glue on results, and put up posters on a favourable place in the house. The exclamation mark should accompany us.
Now I do not know yet, that two students will have to be threatened with their early departure on the third day. They will gain access to hard liqueur, which the peasant family had placed unsuspiciously, but yet prominent, almost obtrusive, on their schnapps corner. They will pour the forbidden drink into little glasses of schnapps – who drinks a schnapp or two out of a coffee cup – and they will then drink it with contempt, without pleasure, but with almost delight at the forbidden drinks against internal resistance. Somewhere in the old farmhouse, our accommodation for four nights, it stood, this one bottle of brandy. And while I wait here at the station, the bottle still awaits patiently to be discovered. The two find this bottle; will drink from it, trespassing against an agreed rule. Everyone is responsible for his actions. That will have already been agreed. And then it is threatened. Early return home for breaching of agreed rules.
I do not know yet that a student will have overslept the beginning of the social-week, the departure of the minibus I have steered, and the Postbus, which will follow shortly afterwards. That he will find the accommodation too late and miss the first morning departure for the excursion in the karst area. I also do not know that I will comment on all these omissions with a smile: „He, the H. has overslept. He missed the train” as the class representative will tell me later with a smile and a shrug of the shoulders. A twitch, that means: „You know how the H. is. You know him”. I will not care.
One of the 21 will be missing at the beginning. The question, when he comes, how he comes, is not a question to me. At 9.00 o’clock he will then – contrary to all implied and suspected unexcused absences – somehow arrive together with us on the farm. I do not know yet that I am actually going to smile, almost ignoring the sleeper. My attention will be given to the other 20. They deserve my full attention and it is also necessary. The mother of the sleeper is already out with him at half past seven, and will actually bring him to us on time. Will she have rebuked him? Did not she wake him up today? And he will not miss the departure to the karst area. What do I have at all, the H. is here.
Anyway, I have nothing. I ignore it and smirk.
The minibus is ready with me, the Flipchart sheets are rolled and stored. My bike too. I need to get an extra small mobility at the farmhouse. It is this inherent endeavour to always be mobile on the go, which allows me to put my bike in the minibus. I already know about the absence of individuals in the afternoons, evenings, nights. The two training sessions of the tri-athlete must be attended. Although: the racing season is over. “But, at least twice, I have to go training.“ The strength training of the skiers, the two matches of the ice hockey players, the training of the floor ball players. I know all that. And I already suspect that I will drive a few times those twelve kilometres to the train station to pick up the last ones at ten thirty. I do not have to think of my sleep, my privacy in the next few days. Time and again to the station and back from the station.
„Well, for you teachers is really nice to be on an Alp for a whole week. Nature, fresh air, rural idyll. No class. And the weather will also be good in the next week. “
Yes, that is right, really nice. With 21 young people on Social-Week, to clarify, this means helping other people for free with their tasks -hopefully not a waste-, reducing the workload of some, shopping together with the 21, cooking together, organizing the dishwashing and cleaning duties. To explain 21 young people how healthy sleep can be.
The day has 24 hours, the night nearly too.
„Please explain us about volunteer service! Why should I saw off this little spruce? I destroy nature with it!“
Explain why there is no need for spruces on an Alp, why the calf eats grass. „But why does the calf have to eat up here if there is enough grass down in the valley? And anyway, who needs all the meat of the cows who eat here? Who should drink all the milk? By the way, my little brother has a cow’s milk allergy. You could just let those little spruces grow. “
Nobody has his cell phone on the Alp, but a big loppers, a small handsaw too and good mountain boots anyway. Somewhere somebody has left its tools. That was just before lunch. But where was that? We are looking for the tool, later.
I do not know yet that we will paint blinds, the dry, bright green blinds of the rotten farmhouse; that we will have a fantastic lunch, the owner of the Alpine meadow, a country woman of passion with a desire for short-term seclusion, a vivant woman from the city, that allows herself with her husband a weekend elsewhere, will spoil us during the break with the best nutpastries in the world and will sweeten our day with fresh strawberries. In the lunch break, a sumptuous raclette will be served. We will be so over eaten and fed up as seldom.
And I will not have the slightest idea now, at half past seven, that the noodles will be totally overcooked and too abundant on one evening by the on-duty cooking group. Social Week has something to do with doing something for others without getting something for it. It has also something to do with everyone involved, not knowing what you are getting, what is coming your way.
And in the end, I will leave, with my 21 students, a farmhouse sparkly clean, have had countless small and large, shallow and profound conversations about this and that, about life and the pros and cons of pure reason, about how decisions in a group can be made, how much voice a democratic fabric needs, how much it tolerates. How performance develops in a group or how it can be avoided. Who prevails in a society and why. And this Social Week will trigger something in the young people. Afterwards they will always do something that will not be measurable. It will not be possible to determine what if they had not experienced it, learnt it, avoided it or done it. And as a teacher, I will secretly take stock of what was learned informally, how much social psychology was lived, where I was model as a teacher, as a person with power and responsibility. And Andrea will fall in love in this Social Week, in Luca, the trickster. I will only learn that much, much later. Then, when they have separated again and fallen in love again.
It is Monday, just after half past seven. Now it comes, the train that brings my students.
Two minutes should Sebi jog unhurriedly on the football field. He should test his sense of time and estimate how long two minutes are. And if he thinks the two minutes are over, he should return to the starting zone. After 45 seconds, Sebi is already there, completely out of breath.
„You do not have to run fast, try jogging unhurriedly. Wait a moment. How high is your pulse? Count once!“ We will try again.
For the second task, the distance had to be completed in five minutes. Impossible! The five minutes consist almost exclusively of recovery periods at a walking pace. The two minutes that were not run before still show consequences. At the end and in between he stands and breaths heavily, gasping in his fat. Because Sebi belongs to the Generation XL – extra large -, he is fat, way too thick. Sebi is 13 and fat. In his XXL T-shirt he has something of the friendly Michelin Men. Sebi is such a nice guy. One likes him despite his double chin and buffing-belly. Almost like those smash-hit wrecks on US talk shows, the circus attractions crawl just above the screen. Round nice dumplings. And you can watch Sebi growing. A little more every year. And when he is thirsty, a one-and-a-half litter ice-tea bottle or coke. When he is hungry, burgers and pizza and chips or gummy bears in between. And Sebi likes it in between.
His father is corpulent, well-formed, his age complies well with the food but also too good, too thick. Like Sebi. His mother is rather limited in her ability to move, therefore certainly heavy, but also thick. And his daily meals from the paper bag filled with sausage rolls, from the styrofoam boxes filled with burgers, almost everything, for such food. All this together makes Sebi quite round.
Sebi has to move, not only in gym class, but also before class, even during class breaks, but also after school. Sebi must eat properly, eat healthy, eat really healthy. Neither gummy bears family pack in the five-minute break, nor a half litre cola bottle after sport lessons.
We discuss Sebi’s situation, Sebi and his teacher, his physical education teacher. Daily exercise, time and again, on the way to school, back home by bike, water for the thirst, potatoes instead of fast food. So much effort! Why are you doing this with the fat sack? Should Sebi slip directly into cardiovascular disease? to suffer from diabetes or a fatty liver? So he will die before his parents.
Of what avail is it the effort of a teacher? Nothing? Nevertheless, the program for the big weight loss stands. Not a bit of fruit and now and then move. A properly thought-out, scientifically sound weight loss program. Movement throughout the day, no snacks in front of the computer, no rushed lunch. Stairs instead of escalator and lift, rather dry ham than fatty salami, everything is allowed – but all in moderation. Sebi smirks. With this slogan, Sebi has found a competitor against the Good Year tires, the chubby cherub Anja. Her thick thighs peek out from under her mother’s pink mini dress. Too much chocolate, too often fries, muffins and burgers in the fast food mecca.
Today is another special day in the shop: Everyone is allowed to fill up the cup with soft drinks as often as they want. Everything for the cheap all-inclusive attractive price. For Anja a happy day; so much coke, until she cannot anymore. Soon the tight top will be too tight again, the greasy folds over the waistband.
Sebi has lost seven kilos, it has taken two months. We have patience. You cannot notice it at all, but the scale does not lie. Sebi takes courage. His pants are now loose. Sometimes it seems to him, a girl looks at him. It is Anja. She has given up again long time ago. She gets weak, with sesame rolls with plenty of mayonnaise, breaded chicken, in addition to French fries and a cup of cola, and thicker and fatter. It only takes a few minutes to swallow it up. Then she goes home, there is a ready meal from the microwelle. And now she meets Sebi in the disco, moves her round figure to the music and pours the third coke rum into her stuffy tummy.
Sebi is now spending time eating. After 15 to 20 minutes his body tells him he is full, feeling satiated. He has said goodbye to potato wedges dipped in sour cream, frozen pizza and packet soup. It will be cooked at his home, one takes time eating. There is again a family table. And sports with tennis and jogging became Sebi’s hobby.
At some point later, I meet Sebi again. Thicker than ever. You were right, back then.
Why are you doing this to yourself?
Now I’m sure: I have lost the fight against PlayStation, Schnitzel’ rolls and Coke. I give up. At least for now.
It is already a tightrope walk: on the one hand, the fetish of the beautiful body, on the other hand, the obesity of the back and front views of the human species.
Sebi is going his own way now.