An English lesson. 

An extract from a novel sits in front of the pupils. Words, perhaps unfamiliar, are highlighted. The teacher asks, ‘What other words can you think of that mean the same thing?’ The pupils either respond reluctantly, and with poor examples, or not at all. They don’t know many synonyms, if any. Or, they’re not aware of similarities between words which they do know and the new vocabulary.

A history lesson.

A piece of art, showing two men standing with lots of alien goods, is projected. The teacher asks, ‘What do you think the artist was trying to say about the early C16 based on what you can see?’ The pupils’ responses? ‘Everyone had weird guitars.’ ‘They had invented globes.’ ‘There were giant, slanty-skulls in the C16.’

A science lesson.

A Bunsen burner, aflame, stands atop the teacher’s desk. Using tongs, the teacher places a test tube containing a substance, unknown to the pupils, into the flame. ‘What might happen to this substance when heated?’, the teacher asks. ‘Burn!’, they all say.

A music lesson.

‘Here’s a piano’, says the teacher. ‘How do you think you play Cantaloupe Island?’ ‘What’s a “cantaloupe”?’, the pupils ask.

A French lesson.

‘How do you think you say “I would like a burger on Saturday with my friends” in Portuguese?’, asks the teacher. ‘Miss, this is a French lesson’, a bewildered pupil replies. ‘I know, but guess what’s in my head!’