I’m always rabbiting on about how stories should be easy to find. My school visits would suggests classrooms are a very rich vein to tap into.
Over the past two years I’ve witnessed:
– a senior student dissolving into tears because her homework was late due to sport-, drama- and music-related commitments
– a Yr 12 boy asking his teacher what he’d missed while he’d been “unavailable” due to interstate athletics carnivals
– Yr 7 students nodding off during final period, apparently because they’re in swim/rowing squads and up before dawn
– a Yr 10 student swear at her teacher, apparently without sanction
– students being told on the last day of the school year that they’ll be expected to apply the knowledge from that lesson in the first week of the new school year (yeah, right)
– a gentle kid with a violent, angry edge to his stories (far from unusual in secondary school boys but still…)
– teachers who seemed to have lost the will to live, let alone teach
– parents cataloguing all the things they want their children to be better at and then demanding a school address these ‘failings’.
There are also the ‘good news stories’, of course. I’m reassured that the motivated and dedicated teachers greatly outnumber those who appear to just be going through the motions.
For any would-be novelists working in classrooms, my gut feeling is that’s there’s probably 20 stories sprawled in front of you. I’m not saying write the true stories of your own students as there are pesky issues such as confidentiality and ethics to consider. I am saying that there are archetypes that you can add flesh to, maybe by carefully merging six students into one.