Flying lessons ...

Now this has to be back in the first year I was teaching. For anyone new to teaching, working with 16-19 year old males in an urban setting can be a baptism of fire. You do need to have your wits about you, it is an alpha male culture and you do have to be on top, ahead and not 'worth the effort'.

Being the new lecturer, the second years see you as prey whereas the first years are blithely unaware.

Most of the characters 'trying it on' were easy to bat away with a little wit, leadership and 'taking no shit'.

But, as befits the experience of any new educator, there are some situations that come from left field angle and takes one completely unaware. Blowing up in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, as befits the tempestuous nature of the young adult male.

Early on in my career I was working on the 'if I am late" ... "so can you" policy, this worked as I am quite obsessive about time keeping, often at appointments early much to the chargin of those around me.

One of my tricks is to set my watch at least three minutes ahead, even in an age of time protocol enabled mobile devices. I still like my analogue wrist watch, set those few minutes ahead, old habits and personal obsessions.

In slouches young male in question, looking back, he had all the hallmark signs of someone with their arse in their hand over something. But, relative inexperience prevented me from spotting the telling rain cloud hovering above them.

As youngster was late, which was already impressed as a sin equivalent to committing other unmentionable acts, I passed onto said soul the same words of wisdom shared with many others in group, who all now fearing the alternative (and seeing classmates experience this) decided that what was shared had meaning.

Soul grunts, lifts chin from carpet and continues a cro-magdon'esque saunter across room towards an empty seat.

Turning back to the whiteboard, the situation becomes like something from a badly written martial arts movie I catch from the corner of my eye a large object being lifted.

Turning to see young urk throw a computer chair (you know one of those heavy spinning wheeled types) at me. The fact that he was moving with some haste, did not allow him to appreciate the fact that they are not light. As it makes a low orbit towards me, I take a step to the right and allow it to crash into the wall beside me.

Now, the next move is not recommended and it is with good fortune that it turned out the way it did.

The class in stunned silence and the urk just standing there, watched as I picked the chair up and threw it back across the classroom aiming for the ground before his feet.

"Would you like to try again?", I asked, "looks like your aim is like your attitude?".

Around him are nineteen other young men agog, those long moments of silence.

"Well ... this situation isn't going to go away?" ... "What do you want to do?", those who know me and have seen me teach since know that I can do brinkmanship and push students young and old into places they are unused to.

One of the class speaks up and to the urk, "you are lucky man (meaning the student), you better apologise or you are in real shit". Now this is a situation where I could accept the apology or pursue the situation, the fact that I had also thrown the chair back meant that even then, I would have been in a very awkward situation.

Now I will leave you to guess what happened next, how we resolved the chair issue and how I maintained discipline. What I will share, is that I am not so daft as to leave too many clues to when this was and who was in the group.

Lets just say, that the damaged chair disappeared with no one any the wiser.


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