Another brick in the wall

| October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

By Bruce Pinnock

We teachers can only admire parents.

They go through so much for their children. Take Speech Day prize givings (especially those accompanied by Valedictory Eucharists), for instance…

Here we proud parents are on this fine summer’s day. And the sun is shining so brightly. Right down on the uninsulated, non air-conditioned, marquee tent. And isn’t it wonderful how many prize winners there are! There must be over 300! All lined up in alphabetical order! And our surname is Zwelitini… eish.

It’s not that educational celebrations and chapel services aren’t important. After all, how else do people get their heads around the idea of eternity if their sons don’t play cricket? But don’t you think schools could learn a lot from air travel? The air travel industry is way ahead in coping with protracted ‘sitathons’. For one, the speeches are short: “This is your Captain speaking… there is a tail wind of 300 knots so the flight will be three hours ahead of schedule when we land…” And then the plane takes off and, one way or another, you know you will land.

Prize givings, however, are different: “And now I introduce the Headmaster with a lot of wind and 300 prizes to award and we are already three hours behind schedule…” And then the Headmaster takes off and you believe he will never land. You have in-flight movies on the plane. Schools should do the same. Each parent should have his or her own little TV monitor on the back of the plastic chair in front of him. With earphones, of course. And appropriate films. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be fitting.

And then, when you get to the hymn-singing part, you could choose your own hymn. All done wearing earphones. And none of this old Bread of Heaven stuff. The Viagra generation gets to choose something more appropriate like Give me Oil in my Lamp, Keep me Burning! And during that wait for the kid whose name is Zsa Zsa Zarathustra to finally go up for the Scripture prize so that yours will get a turn, a little channel surfing would not go amiss. And after the ceremony? Air travel only requires that you grab your luggage, then rush off to visit Great-aunt Esmeralda (who has a will) on her death bed. Nobody requires you to socialise with people you have never met, like at prize givings. Just imagine if airline passengers had to get together for two hours after the flight: “My dear, you looked stunning as you slept propped up against the window with your mouth half-open – no, no, you didn’t dribble – well, nothing to speak of.”

Of course, the one area where chapels have aeroplanes absolutely beat is when the Chaplain says, “Let us say together the Lord’s Prayer.” On the plane, this would have been preceded by an announcement that both engines are on fire. Indeed, the Day of Judgement seems further away in chapels than on aeroplanes. Like fromhere-to-eternity further away. It could be a welcome release. But parents are such brave soldiers…

Bruce Pinnock teaches at St Alban’s College.

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Category: Spring 2011

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