A drama in one scene featuring:
Miss Smith, in normal text.
Year 9s, various, in italics
Stage directions for future productions of this fine work of literature, [in brackets]
Good, thankyou. So, let's see what we can remember. Someone give me a context, a topic, anything. Anyone?
We always do sweets.
But we like sweets
Alright. But next week, we're going to do starfish or yoghurt or kettles or something. Here's my problem....Sweets are sold in a packet and in the packet, you get reds, yellows, and greens in the ratio 2:3:5. So if I have12 red sweets, how many greens do I have?
Exactly. But how did you know, and don't say because he already said it.
Can I show it on the board?
[I pass him the pen and he does it in giant wobbly numerals across three quarters of the whiteboard.]
Perfect. Even the people at the back of the classroom can read that. The back of the classroom in the far reaches of another continent. Where I am supposed to write now?
[He hands back the pen grinning sheepishly]
Lovely maths though. Fantastic. Anyone got a question? Well remembered gents. What about a different method? Let's take this ratio red, yellow, green in 2:3:5 and find how many reds there are, but with a different way of solving the problem.
[I pick a volunteer and he completes the problem in the remaining small section of the whiteboard. We all look meaningfully at the original volunteer. Still grinning.]
There are also oranges and purples in the bag. What kind of sweets are they?
And what can we taste?
Brilliant, so that's fantastic progress in this topic, and it looks like we're all on board. Let's have a look at a slightly more tricky problem...what's your favourite kind of cake?
You have the whole world of cake related options to pick from and you choose fruitcake? What about chocolate cake, brownies, carrot cake, lemon drizzle, jam roly poly-
That's a pudding, not a cake.
It counts, I'm in charge here. What about triple decker chocolate fudge cake with chocolate icing, sparkly sprinkles and banana cream?
[They wisely refrain from comment]
Fruit cake it is then. OK, so, write this down, have a think about it, and then we'll talk it through.
[I write "A 350g fruitcake requires 250g of marzipan to cover it and make it extra delicious. How much marzipan is needed for a 400g cake?". A hand goes up]
Yes, you can use a calculator.
I wasn't going to ask that.
Sorry. What's the problem?
You don't know what marzipan is?
[Other heads pop up from being bent over exercise books]
Me either, miss.
What is it?
Thanks for that, miss.
[I make a face at him]
Everyone put your pens down. Now raise your hand if you know what marzipan is.....No one? No one at all? In 28 of you? Good grief, you're all missing out. And sadly educated, but that's another issue. Marzipan is... well, it's a bit like play-doh in texture and you can make it into shapes and cover cakes with it, and it's usually either yellow or white, and you can eat it and it tastes sweet and like almonds. Because it's made of almonds.
No, it's delicious.
Play-doh is not delicious.
Yes, but you aren't supposed to eat play-doh. It doesn't taste good. But marzipan is great!
I will PROVE it to you. Like an equation. I will bring you all some marzipan and you can try it and then you will love it. And fruit cake will never be the same again.
[They perk up]
When can we have it?
Um..., maybe Christmas. Or the summer holidays. Now, on with your work, that's quite enough of all this....
By picking an unspecified future date that is a long way in the future is a guaranteed way to ensure that students will forget. But this class was special. They were bright, sure, but they had character, and charisma, and other things beginning with cha, and more than that, they remembered things.
About once a week, marzipan would crop up as an in-joke, as a context for an example, as a theory. And at Christmas, they were adamant that I had promised. They needed the proof. I resisted. I am not encouraged to feed the students.
And they kept on remembering and reminding each other and me. Every time we broke up, they requested marzipan. It became a Big Deal.
So I brought them marzipan at the end of the summer term. Hidden away in my bottom desk draw (and accidently discovered by another teacher borrowing the classroom during a cover lesson while looking for a pen). I decided to bake little chocolate buns as at least then if they didn't like the marzipan, they could console themselves with cake.
Obviously, I deadpanned through our last lesson. No, I didn't bring any. Did they have any idea how expensive marzipan was? I'd forgotten anyway. etc. They didn't believe it, but they played along. And so at the end of the lesson, I passed out the little cakes. May contain nuts. In fact, here is a list of ingredients in case you're allergic, and have we all got our epipens? Right-ho.
They quite liked it. Well, they ate it all, some cautiously nibbling the marzipan from the top, weighing their opinion, others swallowing whole, figuring that anything with chocolate can't be all that bad. A slight anti-climax after a whole year, but a contented one. Everyone a little bit fuller and a little bit more educated.
I will miss this class, and hope that there are new and equally entertaining lads in my lessons this year.
P.S. Don't worry, I didn't get caught feeding the students as I paid off those who knew about it in cake.
P.P.S. Now you should definitely hop over to Sian's to read her story and find some others :D