For a classroom with 50+ nine/ten year old children, this can only be categorized as a miracle of epic proportions. Such a silence had not been heard since the kids had left for summer vacation. I wondered how long it would last.
The year 5’s had been working on reading and understanding Romeo & Juliet for approximately 3 weeks now. The reading part wasn’t hard. Students had been reading a shortened, reviewed, edited, and modernized (linguistically speaking) version of the play. Tame would be the best word to describe it; not so much as a peck on the cheek had made it’s way out of Shakespeare’s more adult original.
In short, the book had none of the original’s character. Still, it was effective at getting young readers to buy into a world where pantaloons were the height of fashion.
“O Romeo, Romeo? Wherefore art thou Romeo?” wailed the oddly well endowed cartoon Juliet. I pondered the meaning behind that particular artistic decision. Juliet was supposedly a 13 year old girl, and here was a particularly fetching cartoon of her in a night slip that barely covered her ta-tas. I mean, it must have taken a team of animators to do this movie, but the unanimous decision to make Juliet bombin’ was an odd one.My thoughts were interrupted by a chorus of nauseated children. Focusing on the screen, I realized that Romeo and Juliet had just started making out, and laughed to myself.
“Sir, that’s gross!” shouted a little boy in the seat next to me.
I shrugged. “Give it 6 years kid, and you’re going to wanna know how he did that.”
“Wha?” English accents don’t particularly like having consonant sounds at the end of words.
“Never mind. Keep watching, or you’ll miss the film” I turned back to the movie when a memory started tickling at the edge of my conscious mind. I couldn’t figure out why though, as it was interrupted by the most horrifying Mercutio I have ever seen prancing around.
Students were asked to take a bullet point summary of the book in an earlier class. This completed, the last class was spent entirely on summarizing those points on another sheet, this time with two sides: one said book, the other said film. Most anybody can figure out what this meant, but year 5 students are not most anybody.
Mr. B, why is there Film? Because we’re going to be comparing the book and a movie.
Mr. B, are we watching a movie? No, we put film on there to torture you.
Mr. B, can I go to the bathroom? I’m bustin’!! (Apparently “bustin” is appropriate terminology for “about to piss ones pantaloons.”) Remind me in 5 minutes. Don’t pee yourself. Please.
Regardless, the proverbial stage had been set, and we were going to compare and contrast the book to the cartoon version of Romeo & Juliet.
Romeo had killed Tybalt in what was probably the most bloodless murder that I’d seen. What if Tybalt had no blood? That would explain his creepy ass complexion.The thought that had been nagging at me surfaced again, and this time I remembered; isn’t the part after this where Romeo and Juliet straight up do some underage matrimonial polka? Panicking, I glanced at the desktop computer playing the film. Not that sexuality or fixing the proverbial plumbing is a bad thing: quite the contrary. However, the UK has the interesting and backwards view towards sex ed that basically boils down to “if I have to.” In this case, I really didn’t want to be the one to explain to upwards of 50 children about the birds, the bees, and the bedroom blanket drill.
Thankfully, one of the teachers was manning the post, and just as the story started to get visual with a game of “hide the salami,” she turned turned off the projector.
“Wha’?” exclaimed some kids.
“Is something wrong?” asked most of the rest.
One boy, however, was close to the desktop.
Curiosity can be rare in kids, depending on the subject. Ask a student to do math and the majority response will be an untempered but well practiced groan of misery rising from the bottom of the deepest hell they can fathom. If you tell young ones they are playing a game, they will lose their minds.
Often, getting kids curious about something is like working with a stubborn, conservative, crotchety old man. It’s not so much that you’re telling the man what to do; it’s more like guiding him, tricking him into doing something you want him to do. Like letting women vote or something.
Sometimes, curiosity just comes up, but it’s never when you want.
I imagine that the boy was probably seeing the hanky panky for the first time. His eyes were wider than plates, and sucked in the scene faster than a dying man in the desert could suck back a fresh glass of water.
“Oh my gaw, they’re naked!!”
A calm before the oncoming storm lasted for all of a half second. Silence, the likes of which I’d never hear again in a class this packed, filled the room like air in a balloon ready to burst. Then, the class erupted.
“What do you mean naked?” “Like, NAKED naked or naked naked?” “That’s gross! Can I see?” “What does it look like?”
“Cool,” went one solitary voice in the back. I didn’t know who it was, and it was probably better that way.
The other teachers scrambled. For precisely 40 seconds of chaos, the class had dissolved into a cesspool of burgeoning curiosity the likes of which I will likely never see again, and I sat and laughed. If only you could have this level of curiosity on a daily basis, not just for the bedroom romp, but for everything. It would be amazing.
When the class had calmed down and the film had picked up from where the tangled sheet tango left off, normalcy returned and the story concluded in dramatic and completely depressing fashion. Half the students left to go to their normal class, and the incident was mostly forgotten instantly.
“Sir?” asked the boy who was grossed out by the kissing earlier. I turned to him, and asked him what was on his mind.
“What did you mean by 6 years?”