The time stands still, a mere hour and a half separates the students and I from the prospect of three whole months of freedom. Eleven pairs of venom-laden eyes stare at me, belying the fact that clearly no-one is here by their own free will, children bound by misplaced parental desires, me but a wage slave, shackled to a paltry salary.
The teachers’ room resembles a morgue, but with less life. The staff, broken, battered and bent out of shape by a grueling 9 month shift pattern, characterized by resentment, linguistic misunderstanding and heaps of Iberian teenage angst, sit around, staring into nothing.
Outside, in reception, the receptionists sit, gaunt faced. They arguably have it worse. Mothers, intent on securing some supposed ‘golden ticket’ for their kids, as well as fobbing them off on us for four hours per week after school, scream and shout at the beleaguered frontline, demanding why their seven-year-old does not yet have full mastery of the Saxon tongue. Mums scream at the staff, the unique facet of Spanish discourse, saying everything you want at the same time, merely exacerbates the issues surrounding the already antiquated sound-proofing and fills the staff room with a feeling of more dread.
It is the end of term, reports are due, long overdue in fact. The company’s insistence that we write everything in Spanish simply delays matters as we all learn how to lie politely in another language. We lie because we have to. The boss’ Mercedes and trophy wife make a nonsense of the idea that this is any kind of educational institution. This is profit, pure and simple. The number one rule of making big money is that the customer is always right, even when they are very, very wrong.
I carve into more reports.
“David is an energetic child, whose natural confidence put him at a great advantage with the language. His youthful exuberance contributes to the good feeling of the class.”
Last week David pulled his pants down in the class and farted in another boy’s face. David farts all the time. He loves the smell and sound of his own farts as do the rest of the class, chortling away when he breaks wind for the tenth time in the hour. David is also a racist, making Chinese eyes or calling the Latin-Americans dirty monkeys. David is 13 years old. There’s not much of a positive spin you can put on that ergo the utter bollocks above.
I think of these people’s mothers and fathers, leafing through year after year of over-positive, bubbly nonsense. Surely, they must know the truth that their kids are in fact, total bastards, devoid of any original thought except to destroy everything that I have prepared. The harder I try, the more bastard-like they become in their desire to wreck and inhibit.
But we are so close to the end, an end that will bring the sweetest poverty imaginable. Ostensibly self-employed, TEFL staff are left to fend for themselves in the summer months. The transitory nature of the job dictates that we don’t deserve a summer salary as we might end up buggering off back to the UK in order to get a ‘proper job’. However, such impermanence in the workplace also has its benefits, there is always the outside chance that the little shits that characterize the months of September to June can be made a distant memory, or a funny story at the pub. The public sector teachers, though salaried and paid, ostensibly for doing nothing over the holidays, have to deal with the fact that they are indeed chained to the job and with it the brats that it brings. When thinking about little David, a multi sensory thought as his flatulence haunts my nightmares, the choice between an overdrawn bank account seems a no-brainer.
The final class is a group of 10 year olds. I put on a Pixar movie and we get through a whole ten minutes before some cunt pipes up;
“Profe….I am aberration.”
On the face of it, Carlos (the class bastard) is describing himself as different, far from normal, ungodly if you will, but perish the thought. The direct translation of me aburre, (lit. ‘it bores me’ in Spanish) only goes to show that Carlos has indeed learned absolutely nothing this year, much like his colleagues. Carlos’ brazenness leads to full scale rebellion as the class rise as one to protest the movie. I ignore them for five minutes but volley after volley of squeaks and screams breaks me and I ask them what it is they want to watch. In the Western World the right to choose is wasted and overrated when faced with a group of bored ten year olds. Many suggestions are put forward ranging from fighting to a video of this guy who cuts himself on camera. I let them tear each other apart as the clock slowly but surely edges towards liberty. Finally they come to an accord, Anaconda by Nicki Minaj, a thinly veiled fuckfest of a music video that has little to do with South American serpent life is agreed upon. When I was ten I made model airplanes, eighteen years later they are watching Ms Minaj squirting cream on her tits. It’s a far cry from a 1:72 scale Spitfire, but times have changed. Anyway, I say no and while they fight I stare at the clock.
19:30 comes with an air of indescribable relief. The kids all struggle to be first out, but no one is beating me to the door. I sign them off then rush past the legion of middle aged, middle class turds who feel that sending little whoever to English with me is a better use of their time and money than a pack of prophylactics would have been a mere ten years before, sparing us all the effort. They want to know how their spawn have done and I for one am not about to spend my free time feeding the expectant crowd with lies. I feign complete ignorance in Spanish, a wonderful tool when combined with their complete lack of English. I smile pass them, take a hard right and dive into the bar, a bar which is so gloriously located next to the school. Some of the other teachers are there already, drinking and forgetting. No-one speaks about work, in fact, no one speaks at all. A pleasant silence descends and all thoughts of children and teenagers disappears as quickly as the salary that we gleefully invest into the bar. Schools out.
Read more of Laurence’s teaching experiences here
Cover image courtesy of Dennis Jarvis via Flickr