In my last two posts I wrote about two upcoming things which have now happened: my assembly in Holocaust Week and joining the school staff dancing troupe. So let me now report back on these two things!
Firstly the assembly. Just to recap: I started from Simon Wiesenthal's account in 'The Sunflower' when, as a concentration camp prisoner in the Second World War, he was asked to forgive a young German soldier dying from battle wounds who had previously been involved in the massacre of a group of Jews, finishing with a clear Christian message of forgiveness at the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose it's the nature of these kinds of things that they look better on paper than in reality, I was feeling slightly nervous not least because of the difficult subject matter I was discussing. I had some very good feedback afterwards from colleagues and also pupils. Each time somebody mentioned it to me I thanked them and then asked what they would have done in Wisenthal's position. All those with a clear Christian faith - both pupils and staff - said they would say the same as me, which makes me wonder whether it would have been better to have had a more ambiguous ending rather than be quite so clear so what I would hope to have done in Wiesenthal's position. Certainly there was a sense of people listening!
And then the dancing. The event started at 7pm with a promise to finish by 9pm. When I saw the programme my heart sank, thinking that we would never get through things so quickly. But we did! All credit to my colleagues organising the event for a superb job done, with very quick transitions from one dance to the next.
And I have to say, the standard from the pupils which just amazing, a real credit to themselves, their parents, the school, and also in some cases their dancing teachers outside of school. The staff were due on towards the end, and as the first half came to an end I was feeling increasingly anxious - after all this fantastic input we're going to have wooden foot here?
So the time came. Slightly disconcerting that, whilst we were waiting in the wings whilst the preceding dance was in progress, colleagues were desperately practising the moves and watching a video on a smart phone. Pretty sure that the pupils weren't doing this! Couldn't decide whether this made me feel better or worse.
Between dances there was complete darkness which made me wonder, whilst in the audience, how people got into position, I assumed there were very dim lights off stage, enough to be seen to be from the stage but not enough for the audience. When I got up there I discovered, no, there were no lights, it really was complete darkness. So how the other dancers (OTHER dancers? I'm dignifying myself with the title of DANCER?) got into position I really don't know, I was still fumbling my way across when it started so I was completely out of position at the beginning. So that was the first couple of routines out of the window. Once things got going it wasn't too bad, got a very good reception and lots of nice comments afterwards. I think it's understood that, according to any normal measures, the staff contribution is going to be pretty bad, so can reasonably confidently say that we lived up to expectations.
So, overall very pleased to take part. It was great to see some of the pupils to whom I teach mathematics in a different light, and I think they appreciated the fact that we were there and taking part. Will I do it again? Yes, I think so! With a few questions about how to get across the stage in complete darkness - how DO they do that?