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At the chalkface

No As for enthusiasm

“SCARY! FUNNY! Brilliant! Blinking ‘Eck!” Some 12th year responses

to Flannery O’Connor’s A

Good Man is Hard to Find. An

absolute corker. It always sorts them out. Ladbroke Grove seems to chime with Southern Gothic. Polly and Daisy are exceptions. Both pronounce it “sick”. Time for a more rigorous,

considered analysis. I look at Paul. He’s a

shy, working class pupil who has hitherto drifted and bunked through school. He was scared of the 6th form. Did he have to talk pretentious bollox? Especially in my subject? Not all the time. He got more confident. Then wallop! He discovered literature and rock ‘n’ roll – always a potent brew. He wanders playgrounds and undergrounds with his head full of bone-shaking thunder and terrifically glum verse. He haunts Ladbroke Grove Library and Rough Trade Records whose fabulous assistants give him the best education a boy can get. He makes connections and has cracking insights “That is so fierce,” he says

quietly, “like that Robert Johnson

song – Hellhound on My Trail or

the Ancient Mariner – it’s about not paying attention!” Absolutely. The class explore

accidents and chance and fate. They’re fast and they care. Polly and Daisy care less. They scribble things down. They kidnap ideas, especially Paul’s. They will

finesse them into the requisite literary gossip with dilettante ease. They will get A grades. This is the Tyranny of the Articulate. Paul won’t get an A grade. He’s

on a D. Why? He can’t write. He might be fizzing with insights but his essays creak with incoherence. His grammar wobbles. They don’t give As for wild enthusiasm. This irks the Leavisite in me. English isn’t just a subject, it’s a bit of a religion. Paul’s a believer. It really matters to him. It doesn’t to Polly and Daisy. They just knock out parrot essays and get their As and zoom

off to St Andrews. Their UCAS statements flaunt

their “passion for literature”. A fib. Paul really has the passion and goes nowhere. Still, I mustn’t be precious. We’re all in the Eng Lit racket and it’s the exam season – Sir Alex’s squeaky bum time. My job is to get results – or get

subbed by Cameron’s Big Society Busy Bodies. Polly and Daisy still think it’s

in poor taste. I remind them of O’Connor’s

reply to this. “You weren’t meant to eat it!” Paul smiles. We’ve got a year

to fix his essays, to make him more articulate and less sincere. We must get him in to university. He’ll be in seventh heaven. Well, if he can afford it.

• Ian Whitwham is a former teacher. A book of his best ever columns is out now. For details, email editor@sec-ed.co.uk

News

Pupil football challenge for Haiti

by Chris Parr

Robbie Williams is challenging school children across the UK to help the world’s poorest youngsters by taking part in a football kick-up competition. The former Take That star is

calling on pupils to get their friends and family to sponsor them to do as many kick-ups as possible, in support of Soccer Aid 2010 – a celebrity football match that raises money for UNICEF and which is due to take place on June 6. The singer has recently returned

from a visit to Haiti, which was devastated by a catastrophic earth- quake on January 12. On his return, Mr Williams said:

“I met children who were injured, who had been separated from their parents and were living in tempo- rary shelters or on the streets in Haiti. “This earthquake hit children

the hardest. The children there are so vulnerable, they’re living day to day without the basic things they need and at risk of violence and abuse. I think this is wrong and we need to put it right. “Everyone knows I’m a massive

football fan, and now I’m asking everyone to join me and ‘Keep it Up for Soccer Aid’. It’s really sim- ple: do as many sponsored keepy- uppys as you can and raise bucket loads of money to help make a real difference to the lives of kids all over the world, including the fantastic young people that I met in Haiti.” A number of professional foot-

Helping hand: UNICEF ambassador Robbie Williams meets children in Haiti who have been affected by the earthquake. His kick-up challenge is set to raise money to help the country

ballers are also backing the cam- paign, and the charity has created a “Hall of Fame” on its website featuring their kick-up skills. The stars are challenging young

participants to beat their records, and have given a few words of advice for those taking part. Eidur Gudjohnsen, the Iceland

international currently playing for Tottenham Hotspur, said: “Football tricks can be affected by lots of outside factors, everything from the pressure of the ball to the wind speed that day. My top tips for keepy-uppys would be: use the top of your foot, try not to kick too hard

or too high, wear comfortable shoes and keep trying.” Nwankwo Kanu, UNICEF

ambassador and the most decorated African footballer in history, also offered his advice: “You have to relax your body, you have to be focused and concentrate. “The most important thing is

that you have to enjoy it, espe- cially if you’re doing 1,000 of them like I can. This is a challenge but it’s a great one. Can you beat my score?” Visit www.socceraid.org.uk to

find out more information about Soccer Aid and download a fun-

draising pack. To buy tickets for the celebrity match, taking place in Manchester on Saturday, June 6, visit www.manutd.com/socceraid

16

SecEd • April 29 2010

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