Day 14: Now I’m Teaching the Teacher.

And life is colour and warmth and light, And a striving evermore for these; And his is dead who will not fight, and who dies fighting has increase. 
Into Battle: this poem was written on the battlefields of Flanders by Capt. Hon, Julian H.F. Grenfell in 1915 he died of his wounds on May 26th.
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Day 14 Now I’m Teaching the Teacher. My time as a mature student in 2007

After last week’s lesson, where Mr C spent nearly two hours telling us how to write a CV. Though most of that time was taken up by him informing us he was born in France, his best friend studied ancient Greek and was the cleverest person he knew.

Please don’t ask why we needed to know that because I have no idea what it had to do with filling in a CV.

Mr C gave us all a copy of a sample CV, he had made earlier and then told us he was sorry he’d made some errors on it. Ms 40Something asked about our in-class short story and could she have the next part.

“Just carry on making it up,” Mr C said,

“Will we be doing anything more with them?” she asked.

“Yes, yes, at a later date,” Mr C said dismissively.

This week, I was apprehensive about going to my English classes after such an uninteresting lesson last week.

Yes, I know I can’t expect him to talk about what I want, like English grammar, punctuation, or even the continuous tenses. I know some of the students found the lesson on CV very interesting as three of them are foreign students who are hoping to get a job over here.

When we entered the classroom, there was only two students, plus two classroom assistants and Mr C himself.

“Is this all of you?” he asked as he sorted out his paperwork. Motorbike Dave arrived closely followed by Ms 40something. Mr C handed me back Part 5 of my short story and said he wanted to talk to me about it later on. By now, two more of the students had arrived, and Mr C settled us down to working on a covering letter to go with last week’s CV.

Then Mr C came over to talk to me. He pointed out a typing error, and then went on to say he hoped I wouldn’t get upset by what he was about to tell me. After three attempts at trying to find the right words, he went into a long story about when he was twenty, and he had a friend who was a professional photographer. Mr C had gone out and bought all the same camera equipment, from a matching camera to the film. Then they had set off together to take the same photographs. When the pictures were printed, you could see who was the professional and who was the amateur.
“What I’m trying to tell you, is you are using the same words over again. You need to expand your vocabulary.”

Why he couldn’t have just told me straight-out, I don’t know. I said as we were talking about not wanting to hurt each other’s feelings could I just say I felt his classes had no structure and why wasn’t he spending a hour of the two hour class on the CV. And the second hour on talking to us about the stories he had got us to write. If I was lacking in my vocabulary, then that’s why I was here to learn, and so far, all I have learnt was how to use two commas in one sentence.

If I had learnt anything more, it was from a book, I bought called ‘Collins Cobuild intermediate English Grammar’. I am at the moment working my way through the exercises in the book. I work on them during in my tea and lunch breaks at my place of work.

The thing which surprised me most was when he told me, he had only been taking these classes for two years, this being his second year. The first was a complete disaster, his words not mine. I told him I felt he talked far too much about unrelated things, rather than actually teaching us. He then told me, he was more uses to teaching foreign students and people who wanted to learn French.

“This is a hard class to teach because everyone has different needs,” he said.
“We are all here for the same reason, to have a basic understanding of English grammar. At the end of the day, all forms of writing need this,” I told him.

I completed Writers’ News Home Study course in 2008

Over the past four years, I have subscribed to the Writing Magazine and Writers’ News. I’ve now decided to do their Home Study Courses. I hope this will help me. I have been looking for a local writing group to join but so far, I’ve had no luck. The college, where I have been going, no longer does evening classes for creative writing.

I was very upset by what happened last night, having to tell Mr C what I felt was wrong with his class and then for him to tell me, I should have said something earlier. I never thought for one moment I was going there to teach the teacher how to do his job. I had hoped I would learn something to my benefit.

At that point I no longer had any respect for Mr C. The teacher, I spoke to before I signed up to the classes had also misled me. I had explained to Mr A what I was hoping to learn and had even shown him some of my work. He told me the classes covered every form of writing from short stories through to poetry.
When I told Mr C that I was led to believe that his classes would cover all forms of writing through to poetry. Mr C was shocked, and told me he disliked poetry, and couldn’t see the point of it.

I tried to explain to him that he could use it as another form of writing.

“Well, I suppose I could have use it to explain punctuation,” he said in a non-plus tone.
“You could have made the classes more interesting if we knew what we were doing next,” I said, “If you had a simple timetable so the students knew what was coming next, maybe they wouldn’t have lose interest so quickly.”

He said, he didn’t know what he was doing next.
Well, that about says it all. I shall see this through to the end. Things can’t get any worse, can they?

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