Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sixth Formers Rise Above The Peat Bogs

State High Schools take a lot of stick.

I drove the usual rowdy school run down to the urban school which was the standard of behaviour was the usual. Actually they are generally very good. When something does happen, the drivers have to see the 'Chocolate Fireguard', who seems to be the teacher who deals with problems on the buses.

"Nothing will happen," said one of the children. "He's as good as a wet day in Blackpool." The child was right. The teacher seemed to like the the quiet life and little ever happened.

This day I was dutied to take the sixth formers to Durham University for a conference on peat bogs. Now you might think that was enough to stretch any teenagers attention span to the limit. Certainly, when I was a teenager, I would have watched paint dry in preference.
But these sixth formers were amazing. Quiet, interesting with something to say for themselves and an ability to rise to the occasion. They could have passed easily for university students and looked more mature than some of the other students who were huddled into groups, hatching preposterous plans for Freshers Week.

"How was the conference?" I asked, expecting a lot of venom and yawning motions as a response.

"Oh it was good," they mostly said.

They had undoubtedly not being reading anything by the New Yorker contributor, E.B.White, who also wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web. He once said:

'Deathliness should be arrived at in a ..haphazard fashion. Loving fame as much as any man, we shall carve our initials in the shell of a tortoise and turn him loose in a peat bog.'

I must make a mental note not to mention anything about carving initials to the rowdy children on the return school bus later on. They will not be so patient as the sixth formers and the deathliness of the bus trip will be alleviated by a mass carving on the back of the seats.

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