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Not Behind the Bike Sheds
Not Behind the Bike Sheds
This lively memoir covers the author's teaching career from the chalk and talk of the Seventies to the digital wizardry of the Noughties. We share the author's journey as a teacher in classrooms in the English Midlands, Jamaica, Miami Florida and north west England where his school was destroyed by the Carlisle floods of 2005.
Alongside the teaching are the escapades of the author and his family as he journeys through a rapidly changing technological landscape and navigates the confusing vagaries of teaching in the cultures of Jamaica and the USA. Above all, the reader participates in the intriguing craft of the classroom teacher as the author progresses from utter inexperience to achieving national recognition for his work using digital media in the classroom. This memoir is written with great humour and insight and captures the fascinating dynamics of the classroom and the ties that bind a teacher and his students.
Paperback; 152 x 229mm
Barrie Day has been a teacher. He taught in Staffordshire,in Jamaica, in Lancashire and in Florida, but mostly, for twenty-eight years, he taught in Carlisle, in St Aidan's and in Bishop Newman's.
St Aidan's in 1977 "roared like a rodeo"."Right, you reprobates, let's immerse ourselves in the delights of literary magic." That was Mike and there were 1200 students elbowing eachother in the narrow corridors. The other English teachers included "warm, friendly, helpful" Jean, the elegant, bird-like Tricia, a part-time furniture maker called John, and renaissance Roger, Belted Galloway farmer and Cumbrian wrestler.
"'He's got a rat in his bag' squealed Wendy." And Kevin Foster, rat-enthusiast, had brought a rat to school for his English lesson. "Please, Sir, Jeremy Barlow stinks." And he did. He'd been chewing garlic to ward off devils at Hallowe'en. And then there was Barrie's first time onstage, playing the guitar, out of tune with his capo in the wrong place. There was a turkey to order from the woodwork teacher and examination courses and sixth-formers who thought Tess was a girlie book and the girl on a trip to Little Langdale whose only response was to say, "I ate this clart round mifeet."
But there were also courses at Higham Hall, learning to be an examiner and pioneering a new course in Communication Studies. All in all a deep immersion for a young teacher with a new baby in a house to restore teaching himself plumbing and plastering and a dilapidated barn and a wife with the determination to rear her own turkeys for the following Christmas.
Fast forward twenty-eight years and Barrie was at Newman. On January 8th, 2005, Newman was under five feet of water. "The water had pushed over filing cabinets and bookshelves and spilled their contents into a sodden stinking heap." The school was divided. Years 11, 12 and 13 were in Harraby and the others in the old technical college and the teachers commuted between the two buildings three miles apart. On Ash Wednesday the whole school attended a special mass in the college. "The feeling of shared emotion and shared compassion was powerful and uplifting at a time when all needed some spiritual assurance that God was still on our side." The new classrooms arrived "on an armada of low-loader trucks" and lowered into place to become the Newman Village.
It was time to retire. The old days when a teacher might transport a class with the wonder of story-telling were past. Everything had to be interaction and evidence, evidence, evidence. But, in his last year he had a multi-media teaching room. Blackboards and chalk had given way to laptops and digital computers. Nonetheless, "you still needed inspiring teachers to catch and hold the attention of a class". A teacher has an impact on a class he little realizes. Years later an old student may remember a throw away line that made an impact. "I look out over a sea of expectant faces and wonder if I have Met their expectations."
It is the thought of every teacher.
Barrie Day has written of his life as a teacher and told of the changing years and the classroom experience at the heart of his career. Such a long view shows how schools have changed, shows how our schools in Carlisle have evolved over the years. It reflects the stresses and strains of teaching but also the ambitions and rewards of every dedicated teacher. His book is the autobiography of a truly conscientious man, but, because of its detail and its honesty, it is also a valuable piece of local and social history.
Barrie Day will be launching his book at Cakes and Ale on Friday, 18th March at 7.00 pm. All welcome.
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