Interestingly, I take on a Biology class today. My teacher and I are covering for an absent Biology teacher. Not that we quite know what to do, but fortunately the real teacher has made adequate advance preparations. Our job is just to hand out learning materials to the students and supervise them as they work. In a way, I'm glad for the reprieve I'm getting from Maths classes and grateful for the chance to do something different. If only I knew.
As I step into the Biology lab, I know I must be in the wrong place. I double-check with the teacher, asking if he's sure this is where we're supposed to be. He assures me it is. Three boys are having a row in a corner, whilst the rest of the students talk animatedly amongst themselves. Our entrance makes absolutely no impact on the class. It takes all of ten minutes to break the fight and get the students to begin work.
"Work" consists of each student copying out a diagram of the respiratory system from a textbook - line for line, word for word. I think this is odd; I clearly remember having to learn all my Biology diagrams by heart and reproducing them from memory when answering exam questions. My worst was the complicated ear diagram - I never quite understood it.
I tell the teacher what I'm thinking, and he assures me this is the only way anyone can get the students to learn anything. They don't listen when the Biology teacher tries to teach them, so the poor man has resorted to the copy-and-paste method: perhaps, just perhaps, by copying down what is in the textbook, they might recognise and retain some of the information.
I see the point: half the class is not even bothering to copy the diagram. One of the three boys fighting earlier turns on his music player and we're all treated to a loud blast of hip hop lyrics. No one dares tell him to turn it down. Two girls flirt with some boys in the far corner, obviously having the time of their lives. Some students just sit and stare, waiting patiently for an hour to roll by without doing anything. Now this is a bunch of fourteen year-olds. The world has gone crazy, or is it me?