Laurie Taylor

March 16, 2001

Hard-up academics are being lured from the lecture hall to the classroom to help schools cope with teacher shortages - THES , March 9.

Good morning, class 3b. My name is Lapping. I am your new geography teacher. Now, of course, geography traditionally referred to the science of the surface of the earth but, in recent years, it has been increasingly concerned not with physical but with symbolic space. Yes, the boy in the second row with the mobile phone.

Can I go to the toilet, sir?

Of course. Now, let's begin by asking about your own sense of symbolic space. What about the girl in the back row with the nose studs. What is your name?

Madonna.

Good. Now, Madonna, tell me about your own sense of space, your sense of your lived world.

I don't know, sir. I was away last week.

Sir! Sir! Simpson's just farted.

Thank you. Well, let me put the question more simply. What I'm after is your sense of where you live, your sense of your home area, your neighbourhood. Yes, the girl in the fourth row.

We were doing rivers, sir. Before Miss left to have her baby we were doing rivers.

Rivers. And what were you doing about rivers?

All the rivers in England, sir, and where they went into the sea. Like, what rivers flow into the Wash.

The Wash?

Do you know the answer, sir?

The answer? Yes, of course I do. But you're not here to test my knowledge, I'm here to test yours. Now, let me see. Yes, the smart-looking boy with the glasses and the atlas in the third row. Can you name the rivers that flow into the Wash?

I suppose it depends, sir.

Depends on what?

On the sense in which you're using the word "river".

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