Friday 19 August 2011

Clearing Up Afterwards

It's all over for the year now. Yesterday was A-level results day, and really the last time I'll see my outgoing A2s. Considering some of the hurdles they've had to overcome (medical, financial, social, legal), they did brilliantly, and I'm really proud of them. Three Bs, three Cs, two Ds and an E. They seem happy enough, even those who have had to go through Clearing, as they have degrees that will set them up for good careers, and even trying for graduate entry to medicine. It's possible that, in a decade's time, if I should be in hospital and see one of them appear at the end of my bed to treat me, I won't recoil in horror at the memory of their dissection skills.

My first phone call of the day came at 6:02am, from Traumatised Student #1. Followed by e-mails from Traumatised Students #2 and #3 less than 10 minutes' later. Then a phone call an hour after that from #2. Into college and a tweet and a text from Traumatised Student #4. Down to the registry and Traumatised Student #5 and his sister were already phoning universities. Then in rolled Traumatised Student #6, followed by #4. Traumatised Student #3 later came to say goodbye and to get last minute advice about part-time degree courses. All this before 11am. Plus the AS students, who were all trying to avoid making eye contact.

I was bought pizza for lunch by #4, and given a Snickers ice cream by #2. I would not have survived much longer otherwise. Then I took the A2s to see the new labs, which they will never get to use, and for old times' sake, they asked if they could put Steve in a compromising position:

The use of the dog skeleton was a novel take on an old joke. I presume the measuring cylinder is some sort of crude dildo.

At the time of writing, I think they're mostly sorted. I'll check with their tutor on Monday. It's only with the knowledge that they have a university place confirmed that I feel able to relinquish my sense of responsibility for them. It's harder saying goodbye to this year group than the last, maybe because I taught them for 4.5 hours a week, rather than 2.5. Maybe it's because they called me Mum and convinced Nandos it was my birthday. Maybe it's because I have actually had two of them cry on my shoulder. Maybe it's because they're almost as fabulously nerdy as me. And maybe it's just because they left Steve in the lab shagging a dog skeleton in an X-rated version of "Funny Bones".

They have contact cards for me so they can get in touch even if I should move to a new college - the cards were declared to be "sick" (I did clarify - they're "sick-good" rather than "sick-bad"). And I had time to play (and lose) a game of foosball with them.

As one class of students spread their wings and clumsily flap away, I'm barely allowed to take a breath before turning my attention to the incoming class. I'm better prepared, I'm qualified and I taught half of them last year. I'm sharing the class, so I teach them all photosynthesis, climate change, the carbon cycle and speciation, then plant sensitivity, muscle contraction, exercise, injury and performance enhancement. That'll be a rude awakening for the gym bunnies, especially if any of you can find me a set of photos that I can use with the caption "These are your testicles; these are your testicles on anabolic steroids"...

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