30 Sep 2009

Smart Kid

Quiet time from me due to work (I know, I know) so I shall post this vid as it made me laugh in a meeting. Yes I got into trouble.

Enjoy:

26 Sep 2009

Hitching a ride on the gravy train.

So long suckers!

That's what my words of adieu will be once I receive my cheque for loads-a-money. To cut a long story short, I've had an exciting piece of news via my email.

Apparently someone with the last name as me has died and a very nice lawyer has contacted me to say that I'm due US$ 17.5 Million.

I know, I couldn't believe it either...

Right, I can't maintain this insufferable idiotic outlook on email scams. I was going to try to keep it up all the way through but instead, you'll have to deal with me being a grumpy bastard.

Who the fuck does this work on? Who actually thinks that some distant relative they had no previous knowledge of would remember them in a will? This deserves a cut and paste exercise in being incredulous:

I am Vincent Tay (Tay &Partners),an attorney at law in Malaysia.

A good start, sounds respectable. I normally get worried when people in the law contact me for seemingly no reason so it grabs my attention. Note the lack of space after the comma.

A deceased client of mine, who shares the same last name as yours, died as the result of a heart-related condition on March 12th 2005.

So you don't actually use the name. I mean, I've got a pretty unusual last name but I imagine there are quite a lot of people in the world with it. What if it was a different person with the same last name as me? Wouldn't that be like stealing? Maybe you should ask some other people just in case. Or split the money. That would work.

His heart condition was due to the death of all then known members of his family in the tsunami disaster on the 26th December 2004 in Sumatra Indonesia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Indian_Ocean_earthquake.

What do you mean? Were the rest of his family naturally producing an anti-oxidant aerosol which, him being deprived of has led to a major cardiac infarction?
Why have you linked Wikipedia? You're offering me $17.5 million and you want me to do some reading? Or is it just in case I had forgotten about the biggest natural disaster of my lifetime? I am confused and bewildered by this.

I can be reached on (barrvincenttay@sify.com) for more information. My late Client has a deposit of Seventeen Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$17.5 Million Dollars) left behind.

Surely your late client had a deposit? Unless he is undead. In which case he might not want me taking his money. I'll be honest, I'm not sure I want a zombie hunting me down even for US$17.5 Million.

Suffice to say I didn't take this offer up. Although I did surprise myself the first time I read it. You see, the first thing that went through my head was 'US$17.5 Million! Sweet!'

What the fuck was that about? I'm a relatively intelligent person I'm also naturally skeptical (I still debate the existence of badgers). But in this instance my incredulity was overridden by avarice. My brain is hardwired to make me go 'ooooh, lovely money'. I suppose that's how these things work but for a split second I was no different from those mumbling morons that respond to the 'nice Nigerian chap who's having a bit of a rough time'.

So in answer to my first question these scams (even if it is fleetingly) work on us all because at heart, we are all money grubbing bastards that would sell our own grandmothers if, in return, we got a shed load of cash. Either that or I'm a money grubbing bastard that would sell his own grandmother for a shed load of cash.

Neither of those options do I find appealing.


25 Sep 2009

'Am I British?' An Identity crisis.

The other day (whilst being a supernumerary in a Philosophy and Ethics class) I was asked if I was British. I said 'yes'. I was born here and have lived my entire life on these isles. But it got me thinking, am I really British?

My grandma is Portuguese (I've nicknamed her '4 and a half feet of pure Portuguese terror' as she is without doubt the scariest woman I have ever met. She could play a tight-head prop and give Vickery a run for his money) so I'm a quarter Portuguese.

My mum was born in Tanzania and lived in Brazil for the first stage of her life. Whilst not a genetic factor it has impacted on her view of the world and thus, through my upbringing, impacted upon mine.

My family is (if one goes back far enough) Norman. Which then leads to a Viking past. So I'm kind of Scandinavian (and a bit French).

I have relations in Canada, Australia, The USA and New Zealand. Or as we still refer to them 'the colonies'.

I feel that I have more affinity with Europe than Britain and a 'British culture' is something that is at best a joke. We are seemingly belligerent when abroad, snobbish, obsessed with ourselves, grumpy, superior, reserved, conservative and emotionally repressed.

But then, is this really what being British is? Or is this just how other nations view us?

Now for those who read this blog regularly (John, Kelvin and Amanda...yep, just you guys) you may think 'but you covered this in your post about the English' but you'd be wrong. Being English and being British is different. Ask a Scot if he is British and he might (might) say yes. Ask him if he is English and he'll smash your face in.

What I'd like would be for people to comment their perceptions of the British. I'd like to see how I'm, as a British person, viewed. From this I might be able to see if I fit the 'British mould'.

Hopefully you can help me to answer the question:

Am I British?

10 Sep 2009

Swine Flu or as it should be called 'We're all going to die - '09'

Yep. We're all fucked.

Not content with scaring the bejesus out of everyone with bird flu, SARs and concerns over the MMR vaccine the media are harping on about how we are all doomed to die of flu. This has been going on for a while and you're no doubt thinking 'well, you're a little late'.

The thing is, it really only hit me today. Reason being is that all of the staff in my school were called to an early morning meeting to run through the consequences of the likely event that staff are struck down. The outcome was that teaching staff were 'expendable'.

Ta...

Now what strikes me about this epidemic compared to others is the the Government response. Usually so reliable when it comes to hyping everything up to abject-terror-level-12 they have been relatively reserved. The current advice from Her Majesty's Government is to use a tissue and wash your hands.

WHAT KIND OF ADVICE IS THAT!

When I read the news I want to see Gordon Brown physically shaking with fear. I want to see a new T.V. channel set up to give figures of suspected cases and how far it is spreading. I want a multi-media viral (hehehe) campaign to constantly reaffirm how close we all are to an agonising death. This is the correct way for our government to behave.

Basically I want the following:

Government Information Leaflet: Swine Flu - Yep, you're dead.

Swine Flu is the most terrifying thing to happen to this nation since the Spanish Armada. The probability of you contracting swine flu and perishing is so dizzyingly high that if you manage to read all of this leaflet then you are probably immortal. Well done.

If you suspect that you may have swine flu related symptoms (sneezing, headaches, feeling a bit 'under the weather' etc.) then you should endeavour to take the following action:

1) Isolate yourself from society. We suggest using a number of black bags to construct a rudimentary 'solitude tent'.

2) Do not talk to your family - it is best that they get used to you not being around.

3) Use the government issued 'bolt-gun' to prevent the spread of the disease.

4) If you have not received your government issued 'bolt-gun' then please call 999 and ask for the 'Public Health Extermination Squad' quoting your name, address and shoe size.

5) If you suspect that you may have infected your neighbours then you may well be guilty of mass murder. You bastard. Call 999 and ask for RAF Brize Norton. You will need to provide exact GPS coordinates and request 'napalm strike; code 12'.

6) In the likely event that an entire city or major town is infected then you may see a large object being dropped from a plane. Do not panic. This is just a healthy dose of 'instant sunshine' to help make everyone feel better. If you survive the fallout, then please concentrate on killing cockroaches and mutants.

Once the pandemic has run its course we will all awake to a new world order.

All praise Lord Mandelson for he is our saviour.

4 Sep 2009

Once More Unto the Breach Dear Friends, Once More...

So we start a new year. It is a bizarre time of year for us teaching folk. We have the unusual feeling of being refreshed and slightly more prepared for our jobs than could be said for any other point in the year. However, as we all know this is a fleeting glimpse of normality before the freewheeling madness of teaching swallows us whole.

This is how I predict my year will go.

September - All seems normal. Lessons are planned properly and marking is kept up to date. The tutor group seem to have retained their well-adjusted outlook on life. There is still some sunshine to make one feel happy and I will drive to work happy in my heart singing along to some kind of jolly, undemanding pop-punk. All is well.

October - Workload is inexplicably rising despite hitherto unknown levels of organisation. I seem to be working later into the evening. However, there is nothing to worry about as all is being managed and I've really got to like some of my new classes. Working hard but happy.

November - Having decided that I could take on more responsibility I am now head of a new initiative called 'Calisthenics and Learning' where I run into classes at random and instigate a brief work out. I am not being paid anymore and all of my free periods are now fully booked. I have been told that this new responsibility will lead to promotion. In deference to my now super-healthy career, I am consuming far more in the way of tobacco and alcohol. Marking takes place between the hours of 8-9pm.

December - Must. Have. Christmas. But no - still much to do. Have worked out how 'Calisthenics and Learning' or 'CaL' can be mapped against Bloom's taxonomy. Have implemented a 'CaL Across the Curriculum' plan and given my soul to the adoption of 'CaL'. Older staff members think I'm a jumped up tit for telling them how to teach. I am bone tired. Marking is a wistful dream and lesson planning involves 'making it up as I go along'. I've hilariously agreed to take part in the school panto. Unfortunately the drama teacher who is in charge sits somewhat to the right of Hitler and I'm now having, per week, fourteen hours of singing lessons, a three hour 'method acting' class and two hours of stage combat instruction. I have two lines in the whole production.

January - I ate, drank and smoked too much over the holidays. The upshot is that despite promising, nay, swearing, to catch up on all the marking it hasn't been done. My lessons are a mixture of reading textbooks and comedic improv. I am now imbibing fourteen litres of coffee a day in an attempt to prevent me lapsing into a coma. 'CaL' has yet to lead to promotion and is taking up more of my time. Parents are starting to complain that their sprog's exercise book hasn't been marked in three months. I agree that this isn't acceptable and take in all exercise books to mark over the weekend.

February - The most miserable month of the year. All the shittyness of winter with no pagan festival to look forward too. I have finally been promoted. I have been given £12.50 a day to coordinate the entire 'CaL' initiative. Yay. My girlfriend suggests that working until three A.M. is madness for £12.50 extra a day. I agree but know that 'it'll look good on my C.V.'.

March - The exercise books I collected in January are still in the boot of my car. They have actually started to compost and I now have a number of rare orchids growing there. Whilst the botanical world marvel at my green-fingers, parents have actually started to picket the school asking for my resignation.

April - In a particularly nonchalant way OFSTED announce that they are coming to inspect. The school erupts into a fiesta of activity. I have to destroy the orchid garden in my car and actually mark the books. Unbeknown to me, the boot of my car was designated a 'Site of Specialist Scientific Interest' in early March. My actions have been noted by the UN and my trial for ecological destruction starts in late August. OFSTED observe my lesson and declare me a 'Satisfactory Teacher With Good Aspects' at which point I nod and agree as only an exhausted man can. At this point I am single handedly keeping the British tobacco industry alive.

May - General Election time. The Conservatives gain power and 'CaL' is seen as a ridiculous waste of time and resources. My pay is cut but as this happens inflation sky rockets. I am now, day-to-day, worse off than my paper boy. On the plus side, Year 11 have gone. I now have three extra free periods a week. All are taken up with pointless meetings on how to develop the Virtual Learning Environment. We are currently working through the knotty problem of which font to use.

June - The sun shines. I see none of it as I have been given the task of reconciling the 'Abadi Condensed MT' and the 'Ariel Black' camps. This involves countless Gandhi-esque meetings where I attempt to prevent all out warfare in the staffroom. The older teachers think I'm a jumped up tit for telling them how to argue. The pupils have decided that asking for feedback on written work is a lost cause and so begin to work out a plan for peace in the middle east. A new political party has been set up by concerned locals. The core tenant of their ideology is my resignation and more 'bobbies on the beat'.

July - I crawl to the end of the year like an alcoholic crawls to a pub. My lungs are now a rich source of fossil fuels due to the vast amount of tar that has condensed there (not surprising as I am now sponsored by Marlboro and consume the entire Virginian crop). I finally get those exercise books marked. The end of the year arrives and I sleep solidly for a week.

1st week of August - I'm bored...

2 Sep 2009

So you wanna be a teacher?

Many people I have met online (and a lot of my friends in 'real life') are becoming or thinking of becoming teachers. I'm a trainee teacher mentor (I got a certificate and everyfing) and people are always asking me for advice.

I will do so here in a way that is often criminally overlooked in the various teacher training course texts...with swearing and bad jokes. I'll also try to touch on some aspects of initial teacher training that are unlikely to arise on your course.

Welcome to the Duke Fandango Teacher Training College.

1) Learn names. Simple yet very effective. The quickest way to demotivate someone (child or adult) is to get their name wrong. I use seating plans to help me do this but another good idea are some name games in your first lesson.

2) Sarcasm is a double edged sword. Many text books will say that you should never be sarcastic to a child. Clearly whoever wrote these text books hasn't stepped foot in a classroom since 1805 because sarcasm is a great behaviour management tool. BUT, it must be used with caution and thought. Tearing into the anorexic kid who hasn't said anything all year is probably the quickest way to alienate them more (and they will not stop crying!) However, if Reginald 'Bullying Meat-Head' MacSweeny is giving you any lip then give him both barrels in return.

3) Never scream. If you have to raise your voice then make sure you are controlling it. It is worth learning how to project your voice (a la thespians) to help you to avoid nodules on your vocal cords. If you find yourself screaming 'shut up you little retards' then you have lost control. If you don't have control, your students will. Remember, more can be achieved with a theatrical look of the watch than bellowing like Brian Blessed having an orgasm ("It's Flash!"...gross).

4) Enthusiasm is infectious. Like herpes but without the scratching. If you are truly enthusiastic about your subject then your pupils will be. If you can't be arsed then neither will they. I remember running across the desks whilst reading Richard III in full Shakespearean actor mode. The kids loved it for two reasons. Firstly, they could tell that I was enjoying it so they felt that it was ok to like it too. Secondly, there was a real risk that I would hurt myself and kids love it when a teacher faceplants the floor yelling 'a horse, a horse. My kingdom for a horse'.

5) You have no right to be cynical...yet. Cynicism pervades schools like the smell of Pot Noodle and cheap lager pervades a student flat. However, the people who are cynical have been teaching for roughly 14 billion years (they were there shouting at the big bang for silence). You are supposed to be a fresh faced newcomer full of enthusiasm. Indeed, you have chosen this profession, not been drafted in. So act like it...

6) Be honest. If you can't or haven't done something then own up to it and apologise. The amount of ITTs who think that they have failed if they haven't got around to marking the exercise books and then lie about it is huge. It causes the class teacher many more problems down the road (normally when the ITT has buggered off on their second placement).

7) Don't be scared of fucking up. We all make monumental fuck ups (I aim for around three a week) it happens and that's it. The important bit is that you learn from your fuck up. It might not prevent you from making the same fuck up but at least you'll recognise it next time and perhaps guide the lesson towards being a mini-fuck up rather than a megaton-scale-universe-ending-lubricated-donkey-penis-in-the-face fuck up.

8) Laugh. You'll often be told 'don't smile 'till Christmas'. This is nonsense. You are not a robot and you should show the kids that you enjoy their company. If you laugh then say 'right, lets get on with some work now' you'll get a better response (and more work completed) than if you get grumpy.

9) Don't be afraid to apologise to a kid if you screw up. Imagine the scenario. You're tired. You've had a row with your loved one. You now realise that doing Jager-bombs until four in the morning was a bad move. You hate all. At that moment, little Jimmy passes a note to his friend Whitsable. You hit the roof:

'Jimmy you maggot! You half-formed lovechild of Stalin! Who the hell do you think you are, passing notes in my class like a Nazi quisling! You are detained for the rest of eternity, until the trumpet of heaven signals the collapse of civilisation and the arrival of the judgement where, if I were you, I'd be very, VERY CONCERNED!'

This is clearly an inappropriate response. Next lesson, take the pupil to one side and apologise. They will respect you a lot more if you have the balls to say you got it wrong.

Also, a good tip to dealing with letters is to confiscate them and pretend to read them aloud. I generally go for the 'I love Mr Fandango's lessons so much. He is well cool. Also, I heart Billy.'

10) Listen to your mentor. They might be an irritating tossmonger but they know their stuff. Ignoring them will make your life miserable. Also make them tea.

I hope this is helpful to those four people who actually read this blog, I'm aware that it is pretty limited but if you have any questions then comment away. Always remember that you are the becoming part of the finest profession in the world and that what you do everyday of your working life is an inspiration.

Best of luck,

Duke.