Scrooge and the Last Day of Term

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“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” so the song goes setting its own challenges for institutions to make it wonderful. Barry Cryer said of Morecambe and Wise that: “Every time they created a great Christmas show, they’d create stress for themselves.” It is this stress that seems part and parcel of Christmas for far too many people, whether it’s the stress to make Christmas the best ever and how to get the presents and food right, or the worry about how to celebrate it without ‘offending’ people of different or no faith – people can get into quite a tizzy. And families… families…

Schools become a microcosm of different attitudes, some teachers can’t wait to put on a Santa hat, a Rudolph tie, brandish mistletoe in the staffroom and knock back the sherry. Others, more Scrooge-like, see the whole thing as a problem, especially where discipline is concerned and as a teacher I waver between the two positions. Drama teaching affords the possibility of doing a Nativity and/or a Panto, which, for me are both excellent teaching opportunities where tradition stands at the forefront of the lessons. The same with a Christmas Lunch, Carol Service, and the giving of cards and gifts to friends and colleagues. The Christmas drink and/or party is a good thing too and should be enjoyed. In all these we have the opportunity to celebrate: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.[ay, should we say ‘all’ rather than ‘men’?]” with varying degrees depending on the event and people’s faith or lack of it. The spirit or spirits can warm you and God and/or music or art can give you a glimpse of more than the mere day to day, and Christmas should be an opportunity for selfless acts rather than be a celebration of yet another ‘selfie’. And to ‘heaven’ with offending people, Christmas is part and parcel of how we do things around here.

How a school treats this season shapes how children see it. Some kids are subjected to endless ‘videos’ in endless lessons, endless because they never see the end of the ‘video’ before the bell interrupts the narrative. They eat mince pie and chocolate and drink squash and juice until they are heartily sick of having ‘fun’ and this might have a purpose to party them into submission so that they are so bored of festivities that they can’t wait to get home, or it can have the other effect of whipping them up into a frenzy of excitement that can only be disappointed with the ensuing come down, whenever it might occur. This endless Christmassing can cause unnecessary stress for other teachers who have to pick up the pieces or are trying to teach content until the bleakest end.

Voluntary work, raising money, making gifts are all better than watching the first forty minutes or so of ‘Nativity V’ or something…

I think teachers should teach until the end of term. By all means wear a tie, or a hat, or that Christmas Jumper because it’s for Charity on the last day of term, but don’t party on because it’s your last lesson with them until the new year. If you must do something different a competitive end of term quiz based on the University Challenge format can be fun, or the performance of the Pantomime. Give out cards as they leave your class and wish them a happy Christmas, I also give them a short list of books they could ask for on their Christmas list (one or two must haves for reading around the subject). Then, when the last lesson before the holidays is reached, whether it is timetabled or a form period – this can be the time for goodbyes, happy Christmassing, exchanging presents with those in that particular group, maybe a mince pie or two and watching the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special from 1977. “BORING” they say, yes, but look at the comic acting, LEARN from the past say I, it will make you a better performer in the future…

Happy End of Term Christmas.

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3 thoughts on “Scrooge and the Last Day of Term

  1. suecowley

    We used to do a staff panto for the kids on the last day of term. We spent the last 6 weeks or so of term writing and rehearsing it in our breaks. We always based it on the latest movies and bands (‘If you want to be my teacher’ and the ‘men in pink’ being two of my favourite memories.) It was an occasion of much hilarity and it gained you massive kudos forevermore in the eyes of the kids if you took part in it.

    Of course this whole video/not video debate is an entirely secondary one, since in primaries around the land the teachers are too busy rehearsing and organising nativity plays to worry about whether or not to show a movie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. teachwell

      It sounds like fun but the idea that it is to earn kudos from children is a bit creepy to say the least. Why does an adult need to seek the approval of children and spent 6 weeks of their lives doing so? Another reason why some should not be in education – too distracted by their own needs to focus on those of the children.

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