P& J Column 2.6.16

‘Activities Week’ – when ‘trip hazard’ takes on a new meaning

Jonathan M Lewis, Headteacher at Garioch Academy

Educating the ‘whole child’ is a remit we at Garioch take very seriously, and Activities Week is at the heart of our programme of learning beyond the classroom. Yes, the traditional model of pupils learning disparate subjects from specialist teachers has its place, but when young people experience things out of their ‘comfort zone’ – that’s when the magic happens.

Naturally, these school trips are not without risk, and breaking news of an incident to parents is one of the hardest jobs a headteacher ever has to undertake. This year, however, I’m delighted to report that our list of casualties is exclusively comprised of staff.

First of all, given her daily lectures on the importance of pupils using factor 50 sunscreen, Miss Forrest is all too aware of the irony surrounding her hospitalization for sunburn in the Ardeche. Apparently, the ‘Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil’ she was applying was not a protection, but an accelerant. Happily, I hear her blisters have now burst and she assures me she’ll be back at Garioch as soon as the bandages are off.

Mr Grieve is well on the road, or should I say canal, to recovery in Amsterdam where his concussion is expected to have no lasting ill-effects. It seems he stood up to remind the pupils of canal boat safety just as they passed beneath the Magere Brug. There is no truth in suggestions that his unsteadiness may have been connected to a visit to the Mellow Yellow Coffee Shop. Mr Grieve simply enjoys coffee, particularly ‘black’. From Morocco.

Lastly, our thoughts are with Mr Strudwick following his accident on the school ski-trip to Chamonix. He is due out of traction shortly. I’m sure he will never forget what a ‘black run’ is, and how important it is that beginners steer clear of them. I mentioned that when I phoned him in hospital in Geneva the other day. He said that he’ll never forget hitting a tree legs akimbo at 50 mph, either. Which sums up Activities Week rather nicely. It’s all about the memories.

Professor Hector Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow, the Bogton Instutute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking me questions; questions like, “are we now at a tipping point where green electricity is going to become the dominant source of the world’s energy?”; “will we ever see a return of supersonic flight?”; and, “would you mind not dancing like that, sir, you’re frightening the other customers.” To which the answers are “plausibly”; “certainly”; and “I don’t care if this is a KFC, when I feel the groove, I gotta get down.”

This week, people have mainly been asking me about Harambe, the gorilla shot dead in Cincinnati Zoo after a young boy fell into his enclosure: a tragic outcome, and no doubt a heart-rending decision for the keeper that had to fire the fatal shot. I have been asked if the keeper’s actions can be justified. I am in no doubt that they can. There is broad agreement amongst the scientific community that zoo animals should be kept in conditions which closely simulate those which they would experience in the wild. Harambe was a western lowland gorilla, a species which has been hunted close to extinction by poachers. How sadly fitting, then, that even if he lived like a captive, Harambe died like his wild cousins

Archie Fraser, Gentleman of the Road

The life a gentleman of the road is not an easy one. After a high-spirited youth set fire to my sleeping bag in the early hours of Saturday morning, I have been temporarily reduced to bedding down, hamster-like, upon discarded copies of newspapers. I would already have attempted to negotiate the purchase of a replacement from one of the city’s fine charity shops, but my dear friend “Bones” McCracken has promised me his one when he no longer requires it, and given the noises that now emanate from his chest when he lights his first tabbie of the day, it seems that day draws near.

As I lay my head down last night I read that the Council intends to install wifi facilities on park benches. This suggestion has been met with some derision, unfairly in my view. I think any initiative that ehnhances the comfort and utility of our public spaces is to be applauded. So I say yes to park bench wifi! And also to park bench memory foam mattresses, and, if its not too much trouble, park bench drinks cabinets.

Don’t miss the flying Pigs live in ‘Dreich Encounter’ from tonight until Saturday 11th June at HMT