Sunday, September 30, 2007
Ordinary life 9(b)
So I decided that while I looked for my true vocation, I might as well go back to college and explore the fallback of being a teacher.
Physics has always been a short supply subject and after having a short test on my internalisation of Newton’s work I was in. I was a few years older than most of my fellow students, I drove a large motorbike. While there was only one girl studying Physics there were plenty doing English and Drama.
After a year I had accumulated enough points to be qualified to teach Physics, Science and Drama.
Towards the end of the year, the admissions tutor, the one who had been chauffeured by me since he lost his license, called me in to his office.
“Look here Meredic,” he peered over his half moon spectacles, “are you serious about getting a job or not?”
I assured him I was, indeed the very next week I was on my way to Colwyn Bay to claim a post teaching Physics.
“Yes, yes…. hmm look do me a favour would you. I have an old friend at working in Llandudno. It seems they are looking for someone who can teach Computer Studies. You know how to use one of them don’t you? Oh yes, get your hair cut and lose the sandals as well would you.”
My dismal handwriting had forced me to use one of the new fangled word processors all year or face having my work rejected.
I affirmed and by teatime I was walking out of the headteacher's office with a job, and a promise of promotion to head of department on completion of a satisfactory probation.
On a far long lost September morning, nearly a quarter of a century ago, I started as head of computing (second subject Physics) with a budget of £25,000 pounds. Far less than the significant fraction of a million that I waved back in the labs, but still enough to kit out a room with BBC model Bs…..
“No I’m sorry Mr Hallett I think you might have misunderstood. The annual budget for your department is £250.00, I think you may have missed the point….the decimal point that is.”
I was stunned by the poverty of the situation. Only three computers in the school and a budget that wouldn’t even buy half of another. One word processor. And in addition it seems that my predecessor had spent the lot on text books featuring Pascal, Liebnitz, and Babbage. The history of computing up until the 1970s was written eloquently in those days and formed an important part of the curriculum!
Before making the best of it, I asked the then Head of Science what I would have to do in order to teach A’level physics. The world of computing in schools seeming another possible dead end.
“Well,” he said, “I would have to die first and then the Head of Physics would have to go as well.” I guessed that I wasn’t going to make much progress teaching physics!
This eerie conversation sticks in my mind even now, as within eight years both of them had passed on.
I have since bored countless students with the insight that my employment was in fact generated by the fact that I have very poor handwriting.