Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Days like today are the reason why I blog

Because it is one of our ordinary days. I would forget days like today if I did not mark them down.

I offload the kids at Woburn. First to sit in something that is pleased to call itself an educational session.

Really, it is more of the old sameas sameas. The kids can spot it a mile off. It starts with the routine about whether snakes are slimy.

Honestly, is there a script all education officers are following across the land? Uh. I forgot. There is. It is Target 3.4 and Are snakes slimy? is how you begin.

This is a problem with the uniformity of the National Curriculum, laid out like a greying corpse across the land. Its withered hands have reached far and touched tongues.

Education officers, once people, now incant identical zomboid murmurings, no matter where they are or what animal they're holding. It all sounds like a script worked for a level and a target, so the box can be ticked and the coffin carried off.

We do better, and Woburn does better, when we engage with the keepers and staff to talk naturally and normally about matters they know and love. Which they do, and in their faces and eyes we see real commitment and animal worship. All those monkeys look the same to me, but the soft looking keeper under the monkey bar is able to count them and name each, fondly, one by one. I bet they have to frisk her for monkeys when she goes home at night.

So I can say that Squirrel, Shark and Tiger did not roll out of the educational session brimming with enthusiasm. They looked a little tired. But they enjoyed Woburn, again; a place they've been to often in the past, and the memories helped them find their way again.

They mostly ran off then, and went about their business, so I can't tell you what they did. There were plastic swans involved. And lemurs, and wallabies, and pointing at things. Squirrel wandered around humming, probably. Shark came back with a story about how a harris hawk went off script in the pretty flying birds demonstration and butchered a duck minding its own business a grass hummock.

My wide-eyed anxious Tiger, beset with nervous fears and identity issues, stayed close by. Tiger had a wobble by the penguins and looked set to smash the place up, taking a couple of Humboldts with her because they didn't swim still enough for her to draw them. I went off to the special place I reserve in my head, labelled Emergency Escape Routine for Public Humiliation by Child and stared at the sky for a time. When I came round she was stabbing the tail end of a penguin with her pencil point so I guess the moment had passed.

Then here, on this quite ordinary day, filled with plastic swans, slaughtered ducks and sleeping lions, are the photographs.

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