This is a poem that came into being while I was sitting with my Year 7 group during a library visit. We have a thriving library in the school that I work at and at Key Stage 3, English classes are booked in for regular visits in order to renew loans, browse or take out new books. It was on one such visit that I scribbled down the bones of a poem, putting it together as the finished thing later that day.
What prompted me to write was how amazingly fussy the students were. On top of this it felt like they hadn’t listened to anything they were told in what was obviously a carefully planned presentation. Their behaviour made me smile in part, but also brought out my sarcastic side, which to be fair is never far from the surface anyway.
Library Visit If you are 11 or 12 it would seem to be impossible not to fiddle with a plastic wallet when given one. A temptation surely proven by science as unavoidable. To crinkle, to flatten, to rustle and crackle, might as well be written down as law, with a sub-section of said law regarding the unavoidability of crinkling, crackling and or flattening when the librarian is addressing the room. The same rule seems to apply when it comes to sitting on an assigned chair, especially if this process involves sitting next to a member of the opposite sex. Those who will take on, for most, the very properties of a magnet in just a few short years are for now, strictly persona non grata and to park one's arse within a few inches is viewed as an absolute, unspoken, unwritten non starter. Silent browsing is now also beyond the wit of the pre teen human. Instead this almost instantly provokes inane chatter and a convergence around any available window in order to gawp longingly at an outdoor PE lesson. And so, the sanctity and stillness of the library lies largely ignored, broken; the resistance of an enormous SILENCE sign is futile and a thing of the past, long discarded and tossed unwanted into the depths of a stock room, a relic of a lifetime ago. What is certainly not impossible is the ability to ask ridiculous questions. Common sense flies out of the window, somewhere on the corridor on the way here, having the common sense to know that it will not be needed in the next half hour. Even organised, alphabetised shelves full of writer's names will not reveal where to find the R of Rowling, the D for Dahl, and so ordered thinking gives way to questions that, with a few seconds more thought, need never have been asked.
It’s funny how these library visits regularly pan out in exactly the same way. Our students are more than happy to revert to stereotypes when they’re left to their own devices at these times. So rather than scrutinising the shelves we’ll see groups of boys congregating by the windows in order to either gaze out of them or just stand there whispering.
The stereotypes continue as there are always boys loitering around the non fiction section grabbing books about cars so that they can sit back down and point at the glamour on the pages in front of them with their friends.
Similarly girls will wander around in groups, choosing books before sitting down and dutifully reading them. Because they’re good at doing what they’re asked to do.
It wasn’t a stressful library visit. In fact, if I could have predicted how it would go I’d have been pretty much 100% accurate. But it never fails to amaze me how classes don’t listen when they’re told where to sit, how boys seem almost allergic to sitting next to a girl or how even though someone is addressing them, some kids will fidget with something in their bag or pencil case. And so, I wrote the poem…
I hope you enjoyed what you read. If you work in education you might know exactly what I’m talking about or if you just remember such visits from school, it might have brought back some memories. I’d love to hear what you thought though, so feel free to drop me a line in the comments.