Local Lines

April 1st, 2022Local Lines

Local Lines


One year, before the harlequin bugs
found and filleted our mini-orchard,
we had a bumper crop of pears.
I took bags of them to school.

The staff lapped them up but still
there were more, all yellow green
and luscious, so I hefted them into my
final class for the day, feral Year 9s,

risked handing out
a couple of sharp knives
and some mis-matched
bread and butter plates.

You’re told as a teacher that you need
a plan, that you should know
what you want them to know
and know how you know they know.

But often it’s the kids in the know.
They know when they are ready
and when to put obstacles your way.
Food fudges the contest.

And it is a finely balanced contest. They
have the numbers. You have the authority.
Something needs to happen
for the combat urge to peel away.

What did happen was more than hunger
abatement. Patterns broke. Participation
trumped docility, sharing won out
over hostility. And my guard dropped too.

It became a Friday institution. Students
brought apples, nectarines, figs, grapes, berries,
from their yards or homes and we slurped away
on nothing pedagogical for a good ten minutes.

Then we negotiated. Last period Friday
is legendarily unteachable – kids smell
the weekend – but from this time on,
the urge to bite back was gone.

Bill Wootton

Bill has retired from teaching but still loves his fruit.

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