Thursday, April 01, 2010

Weird Science

Lots of moons ago I was forced to go to school, which I mostly endured with good grace. Most of the time I was bored witless with the lessons and so, but now and then something exciting would happen that made getting up in the morning worthwhile.
This was one of those occasions.
At one of the schools I went to they had a very old fashioned science classroom. It was a Victorian building and the rooms were big with very high ceilings. In the science room they'd installed wonderful old work units throughout the middle of the room and we all sat on big, high stools to reach the worktops.
Also installed on the worktops were gas taps for the Bunsen burners, at the very far end of the room was the teacher's desk, and at the other end the wall was lined with deep, old-fashioned sinks and the store cupboard, which was chock full of all sorts of interesting things that if mixed correctly would go 'BANG!' and turn things a pretty colour and/or burn through them.
Our science teacher was a tad eccentric a total, utter fruitloop of the highest order. He knew his subject alright, but reckoned that in order to entice children to learn, the best thing was to get them excited about the subject in hand, and sometimes his methods were rather... unusual, to say the least.
One day our lesson was to be all about the human digestive system. Instead of the normal 'read these chapters before I show you diagrams on a slide show' method of teaching, our teacher decided it would be better if he pretended to be a bit of food going through the body, and began by jumping onto his desk, or 'the mouth'.
As he made his way through 'the body' he would jump onto empty stools and side desks telling us that he was now in the small intestine, and punctuate his moves with cards showing us where he was in the body.
He was getting more and more excited as he went along, and he failed to notice that some of his pupils had lost interest in his antics and had become far more intrigued by the gas taps on the worktop next to them.
He also failed to notice that one of the boys had a lighter.
We watched the teacher leap around the classroom; I don't know what the other pupils were thinking but I was in a state of bemused disbelief and was wondering how long he could keep going without falling off the furniture.
It was when he leaped from a side desk and into 'the large intestine' that things became very interesting indeed.
He leaped at the exact moment as the boy with the lighter lit a jet of gas, which caught the teacher on the ankle and set fire to his trousers.
Within a second he realized he was on fire and tried to jump off the desk, but unfortunately his foot caught a pile of books which sent him skidding along the work unit at high speed, screaming as he went.
He came to a stop by falling off the far end of the units by the sink, and very luckily knocked over a bucket of water which put out the flames on his trousers.
All was quiet for a few seconds as we held out collected breaths and wondered whether to call for help or laugh...
But then with great aplomb, the teacher stood up, stepped back up onto the work unit and said,
"And that, children, is how shit happens!"
We gave him a standing ovation as he made his way back to his desk before dismissing the class ten minutes early, bless him.
If all lessons at school had been taught by him, I'd have willingly gone every day.