I’ve never been a high school relief teacher, but I think I’ve just had a taste of the dread they must feel to be phoned in the morning and told they have a gig in a disadvantaged school, teaching Maths, or something like that, that all the kids hate. I’ve been asked to speak next week at a Bike Futures Seminar. My class will mainly consist of local government staff from Tasmania. Here are some samples to indicate their current standard of work.
“Who are those council staff? Rejects from Hell?” You have to imagine me as Michelle Pfeiffer (which if I were, right now I’d be naked and in front of a mirror). Watch this clip and you will know what I mean.
But as George Dzundza tells her: “All you gotta do, is get their attention!”
The standard plot with these films of the special-ed-class genre (Dangerous Minds, To Sir With Love, School of Rock) is the new teacher gets driven mad until they throw away the text books (in my case, The CROW), in favour of a customised approach. The teacher identifies the unique talents of every delinquent class member and finds some way of channelling that talent into a highly original, if rather unorthodox, end of year concert performance. The establishment frown, but the parents who come to see their brats sing, cry and go home and make love.
So what I might do, is start by showing my special-ed-class the following film, as a teacher might start with equations on the chalk board while the kids throw paper aeroplanes at the back of their head.
I’ll step outside for a moment to cry, but when I walk back into the auditorium I will be demon-eye possessed by some uncanny ability to recognise individual talents. “Hey you,” I will call to the business development officer texting his mistress, “you like attracting private development money into your town? Well you can be our guy out there talking to developers.” “Hey you,” I will call to the one with thick glasses, “you like drafting development guidelines? You can draft our bicycle oriented development plan!”
Yes, I think I shall play it like that. Australian public officials are rightfully tired of lectures on the right thing to do, when the populace vote for all of the wrong things. That’s why they snigger like delinquents up the back of the dunce class. It really is time someone presented them with an entirely home-grown, customised paradigm. I really think every Australian city needs a Bicycle Oriented Development Control plan to attract private investors to build apartments, with far less car parking, to the land flanking our urban rail trails and waterfront bike paths. This will give councils a revenue stream to upgrade those trail networks and drive safe connections into city centres and places of employment. That’s not at all what a European bicycling advocate would suggest, which is why it might work.