A fear of criticism

Friday 25th November 2011

HURT can take many forms. Strange how we might put on a show that receives lots of applause and many kind compliments afterwards… only to be stung a single complaint a week later.

My first term’s teaching in a large comprehensive school was hard work, Monday mornings especially so, when I had the delightful company of what were known as ROSLA groups: named after the Raising of the School Leaving Age to sixteen in 1973.

Somebody had the bright idea that a double lesson of Drama a week would be good for them. They had no wish whatsoever to be there. Neither did I.

Did I have a fear of being found out? of appearing weak? of being seen not to be in control? Was it something that went back to my childhood? Perhaps.

Because it wasn’t so much an anxiety about the youngsters – yes, they were a disobedient bunch who’d test, tease and occasionally torment you, although, for the most part, all they wanted to do was nothing at all – but a worry lest the headteacher would walk in and chuck me out.

On the two or three occasions he did enter the Drama Hall – showing visiting dignitaries, prospective parents or job applicants round the school – I was saved by an acquired knowledge of his fondness for routine. He could be expected as close to 11.10am as makes no difference.

Consequently, I would start, a few minutes prior to his arrival, an activity that even the most lethargic members of the group were keen to undertake: stage fighting techniques, how to create realistic wounds and scars using make-up, or the effective use of blood capsules.

Two years later, having graduated from apprehension to arrogance, I put on an evening called The Room 34 Show, to showcase the department’s work for parents.

With everyone seated after the interval, I noticed a man heading into the gents and offered to delay starting the second half for him.

“No need,” he glowered. “I’ve seen more than enough of your pointless nonsense. I’m going home.”

Still hurts to this day. I have no memory of the show.






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3 Responses to A fear of criticism

  1. AndyInHolland says:

    ‘to showcase the department’s work for parents’ ???
    Ah, if only you’d shown them the dept’s work for their children, there’d have been no walkout.

  2. Sarah Kelen (Barry) says:

    I bet his child preferred the idea of your Drama classes to Maths or Physics and they had had a major row; fired with enthusiasm by your showcase, the lad was even less likely to settle for Accountancy….

    Love the web-site, Marcus, and will pass it onto my son, Joe. One of the bonuses of getting older is that I can’t remember anything much, triumphs or failures!

  3. Ouch. I was once given a closely typed page of A4 (from a mother) which can only be described as ‘hate mail’: a bit of character assassination and an awful lot of vitriol about ‘elitism’, despite the fact that I am scrupulously inclusive in my plays. Why? I didn’t pick this woman’s son to play the lead.

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