A visit to my old classroom (strangely unaltered after almost two years - see left) prompted a range of emotions and a chain of reflection. It was great to feel so at home in school, even as I rejoiced in the ability to walk out of it again after a couple of hours; it was good to catch up with former colleagues and to catch pupils waving in a friendly manner across the playground as I went in.
Now, of course, much of my contact with the world of education is online. I find that the blogs I read fall for the most part into two categories: educational and church-orientated. On one side the posts and the comments are largely supportive, appreciative, gentle, careful of one another's egos, putting forward helpful and often innovative ideas for all to share. On the other side the posts are often self-aware, sometimes outrageous, often critical, and the comments snippy, defensive, brittle, caustic. You might think it obvious which group is which, but to avoid confusion I should point out that the latter group are the church folk, and the professionals at that. I find the contrast between expectation and reality interesting. Could it in fact be the burden of that very expectation that causes such hard carapaces?
And a final thought about school and church. When I was in the Infant class, we all had to say the Lord's Prayer every morning, standing beside our desks, eyes closed, hands piously clasped before us. The girl immediately behind me always muttered something different - a rapid, distracting mutter. One day I asked her what she was saying. "The teddy-bear's picnic" - quick as a flash. I thought this wonderfully rebellious. Later, much later, I realised that she was Jewish. At the time I was merely aware of a gulf between us, the gulf between my ignorance and her defensiveness. I remembered this today when I heard a rebel in my own congregation muttering her "Teddy-bear's picnic" - the Grey Book liturgy, to which she clings and which this morning had been abandoned in favour of an out-of-synch indulgence in the Blue Book.
Trouble is - we're supposed to be a unity. We don't half make it difficult for ourselves.