A spin-off from my judging of the school talent contest t'other night was a visit to the classroom of one of my erstwhile colleagues in the English Department. I've barely been in the building since our abortive attempt to hold a choir practice in the music department - abortive because of the combination of bagpipes and poor soundproofing - so I was interested to see what kind of room I might have ended up in had I stayed on till the new building was finished.
I'm really glad I didn't. Really glad. My last fifteen or so years in Dunoon Grammar were spent in a room in what was then "the new bit", and I always regarded it as a terrible let-down after the spacious top-floor room I'd been evicted from when the MFL dept wanted it back. However, this new room had it beat for lack of amenity.
For a start, it was still smaller, by about a couple of feet either way. And there were no cupboards. No built-in cupboards - and no space in which to stand one. An arrangement of four flimsy shelves on a back wall - about 4' long, I'd say - held tottering piles of the folders necessary to hold the coursework for five yeargroups. I used to keep the folios carefully stashed away, so that precious work was not open for accident or worse, but there is now no provision for this. My pal was contemplating acquiring some boxes to keep them in: I suggested wine crates.
Ah, I hear you say, but what about the shiny new techy stuff? Who needs folders when all the work could be held electronically? Well, quite. The techy stuff consisted of a handful of the laptops which used to travel round the department in two trolleys, plus a distinctly elderly desktop machine of the large, fawn variety. These were ranged along a shelf at the back of the room, behind the desks. The power supply for this lot came via a cable which originated below the whiteboard at the front of the room, was sellotaped to the wall till it reached the ceiling where it was fed above the tiles, re-emerging (with more sellotape) above the rear shelf.
The only improvement I could see was a ceiling-mounted projector. Otherwise the space was a cramped, over-heated, under-equipped box - and apparently the 28 Higher students who use the room fill it to bursting point. I'd hate to have to work there. My pal is a tidy sort of bloke, but anyone with less than a submariner's ability to stow their gear would find it a nightmare.
Why do these things happen? I hope my friend gets his wine crates - perhaps at least one of them should be full.