Monday, 27 February 2017

Shape of the Octopus

The Thursday night class has been a delight for much of the past four years. But this year we've encountered a problem. To be honest, it was there for much of the previous year, but we managed to rise above it. But now it's become unavoidable.

The songs.

Every wretched song in the workbook. Every one delivered in a cutesy-pie accent to the accompaniment of a Bontempi organ, with lyrics along the lines of (taking the subject of food as an example) "a bowl of rice is very nice, but it tastes better with some spice".

Previous lessons have ended with kids wrapping scarves around their ears to block out the pain. To be honest, I could sympathise with them. Maria Giulia once snatched a pen out of my hand and drew a teary face on the board, followed by the words "This song is very very very very very horrible". And, again, I could only agree.

Something has to be done. I look ahead to the next song. It's about the sea and marine life. It includes the words "Don't throw rubbish in the sea. Dolphins don't like it and neither do we." Okay, there's some useful grammar in there but otherwise...the kids are eleven years old and listening to Adele, Fedez and J-Ax.

No, This will not do. I am not going to have my brilliant kids put up with this nonsense. I just need another song about marine life. And I think I have just the one.

And so I arrive for the next lesson and announce that this week - this week - we will not be doing one of the horrible songs from the book. No. We will be listening to "Octopus's Garden" by The Beatles.

I was prepared for the reaction, which can be best described as underwhelming. Questions are asked immediately.

'Not the Beatles! My granddad listens to the Beatles.'

I'm prepared for this one. 'Yes. I'm old enough to be your granddad.'

'Can't we do "Shape of you"?'

I'm prepared for this one as well. 'No, because I'll be sacked.'

And finally, 'Do we have to?'

'Yes. It's great for the conditional and for prepositions. Also, the guitar solo is really good.'

There is a mutinous silence. I spread my hands in my best "Aren't I the best and most laid-back teacher in the world?" gesture. 'Up to you. Either the Beatles or - ' and here I gesture towards the workbook ' - there's a horrible song about dolphins.'

Silence for a moment, then a nod of agreement. We listen to Ringo's magnum opus. Twice. And it may not be the best lesson we've ever done, but neither does it end with the entire class - myself included - with their heads in the hands, whimpering 'please make it stop.'

I'm not convinced they're going to rush out and buy Abbey Road. But we get a bit of work done. Maybe I'll try them with Jethro Tull or Hawkwind next time. But in the meantime, grazie Ringo.

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