Whilst out for a stroll this afternoon I was reminiscing about my high school days.
Whilst I have some fantastic memories of friendships, teachers and trips I also remember how rough and poor my school was. I remember discussing life and death around a broken table in the ‘garden’. I remember being shot with a BB gun in a French lesson. I remember a boy in my class launching himself across the table and punching my music teach square in the face. I remember my proud GCSE results day. I remember my first trip abroad. I remember the sayings of my favourite teachers.
But there was one memory that was standing out.
Here’s how it goes…
My friends and I had been discussing the theory of evolution (as you do at the age of 14) in form time. Our current tutor was a devote Christian and didn’t believe in the theory or possibility of evolution. Rather than joining us in the debate he set out to prove us wrong. He spoke some time about the eye and the intricate nature of it. He spoke about how God created the eye and there was no way that nature could possibly have had anything to do with such an intricate creation. We listened, we listened some more, but did not speak. He would not allow for debate or discussion.
The next day he brought in an old radio. He also brought in a hammer. Then there right in front of us he smashed the radio into pieces. As he did so he explained that if evolution really existed this radio that was now broken into over a hundred pieces would eventually put itself together.
We attempted to debate it with him, but little did he listen.
He put the radio in a box and left it on the desk.
The next day, he asked “has evolution worked yet?” and shook the box to demonstrate it was still in a hundred or so pieces.
The same thing happened the next day. And the next day. And for a few more days.
As teenagers, it’s not that we weren’t open to the idea of God and religion, but we wanted the opportunity to discuss and debate. We wanted to the opportunity to discover and learn. We wanted to make our own opinions of the world.
Since we didn’t feel listened to, my friends and I decided to do something rather rebellious. This was out of character for us, the usually ‘good’ ones.
One lunch we snuck into our form room. We’d gotten hold of some glue and decided to attempt to piece the broken radio back together. From what I remember we did a pretty good job of it. We carefully placed the radio back in the box and returned the box to its original position so as not to raise suspicion.
The next morning our form tutor went to prove his point by shaking the box. To his surprise there wasn’t the calamity of noise one would associate with hundreds of pieces of metal and plastic bouncing around. Instead there was a loud thump to one side of the box, sliding to the other side as he shook the box.
I’ll never forget the look of bewilderment on his face. I always imagined that for a moment he may have lost faith in his argument, his belief that he held so strong. For that one moment I’ve always felt bad.
But quickly his bewilderment led to curiosity as to what had happened. He opened the box to find the radio almost looking like it had several days before the hammer was taken to it, of course though with the addition of cracks and vast quantities of super glue.
That’s as far as I remember. I can’t remember the consequences of our actions.
But I remember why we did it. We wanted to be heard, we wanted to discuss, we wanted to discover. We didn’t want to be told what to think, we didn’t want to be put down, we didn’t want to be told our beliefs were wrong.
None of us were against the idea of God, against the idea of being part of God’s creation. Some of us were religious, some of us not. But we wanted evidence from both sides of the debate and the opportunity to explore the theory.
I thought for a while of how this experience influenced my future. My desire for knowledge. My desire to see evidence. My desire to understand. A desire and skill I’ve tried to pass on to my students.
Do you have any memories from school that influenced you?
Would be interested to hear.