I got called in

had been teaching for some while
I think there’d been some prissy complaints
injudicious use of the f word kind of thing
I could hear them through the door
ok you say this, I’ll say that
I need to cover this policy & you that
lets see if he really is some kind of thug…
it was like kids playing house
sorting out mummy & daddy roles
the door opened & he stood there
smile in place, hand out for shake
I sat & looked them over
they started talking policy this
policy that & I smiled at them
ok what is the real issue here?
that got ‘em all nervous
interrupted their little play
they fumbled a bit got shifty
well, its, er, complaints….
Ok, about what? can you say?
use of the f word he mumbled
oh, ok, it is difficult I do try to stop
my students from using it, but as adults
it is their learning experiences that count?
erm, no he said, its you, you using it…
oh right, well, as I just said we work in a milieu
where people say fuck, either as a descriptor
or as an expressive force word or sometimes
as a way of saying something is bad, awful
well, I, er, y’know, he was fumbling again
I do understand that, it is just that, well, we’ve
had complaints & there is the policy on this
ok, ok, how many complaints?
four he trumpeted
from four different people? I asked
oh, I suppose so, can you check? he gestured
to one of the women who were sitting quietly
she looked at some papers, shuffled them
fidgeted a little then said 3 people, two were from
one person
ok, ok, so three people, I teach four classes of
30+ people, that’s what 2%,
No, less than, but more than 1%
I’d say that was a pretty good record, do we have
a problem here?
I looked at them with expectation
there was fumbling
fidgeting, shuffle of feet, papers
right then, he finally said, we’ve aired our concerns
will you take them on & let’s hear no more eh?
I nodded, took a second
I’m hoping you’ll write to the people concerned
reminding them, nicely of course, that the course
is designed to elicit feelings, emotions
& sometimes these can run strong, wrong words
can be used, words they are not comfortable with
however, this course is designed to help them
help people & sometimes the world they come from
is very different from their own & people use expressions
from that stranger world….?
that stung them, which hadn’t been the full intention
weeeeeell he said, I guess we can say something like that
that’s great, I smiled as I stood, shook all hands,
headed for the door, closed it behind me & paused a second
there was a bit of mumbling then he said: ok,
maybe he’s not a thug but what a cunt….
I shrugged, my work here was done today
& I walked away, smiling yet sad
this was just the first round, now they’d found a way in
they would keep going.

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