A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?



Doing it in Your Pants

The Situation

At schoool that day, it was time for movement with music on Radio 4 VHF. The child had not remembered that today was the day for movement with music. He was upset because he had a special sports bag and he loved to bring his special clothes (a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, some plimsolls) to school and feel grown up. The teacher was most insistent that the child must do movement with music. The teacher did not have any spare clothes, other than a fluff-covered selection from lost-property. The child was forced to move to music in just his pants and his t-shirt. He found it difficult to pretend to be a tree, and a angry lion and then a frightened mouse in his superman y-fronts. He did not enjoy the movement with music lesson, nor benefit from it educationally as much as he might. The other children laughed.

"Rik in his pants"

The Discussion

Rho See

When was this story? Not in the last thirty years! So how is this relevant? The mention of plimsolls is a giveaway. And do you see how much training shoes cost nowadays? It was perhaps good for the child to experience this kind of poverty. To see what children in other countries have to suffer. Many children don't have shoes at all. Wasn't this boyt lucky to have a school to go to?

Often that's what the members of my team seem like to me – like a bunch of children that want the newest toys. If you gave them everything that they asked for, you would be bankrupt!

Dhan Quay

The story is not of course, not quite aligned with many of our own experiences. Not exactly aligned. But perhaps, the misalignment shows us more. Equipment can be expensive. The value of music and movement can only be truly realised if the boy has the right equipment. For certain kinds of activities, the boy needs certain kinds of equipment and supplies. If he does not have these supplies, whether it is because he forgot to bring them, or because his parents cannot provide, he will not concentrate on the movement with music he will not get out the activity the value that it could provide. The other children will laugh at him. He may remember this incident for more than 40 years.

Of course, Rho See is right that our imaginings of what we might want, go on, even to infinity.But has the teacher here perhaps not attended to everything, not that the child wants, but that the child needs.

San Cho

You can't make bricks without straw. It is that simple. So often am I, and the teams that I work with, asked to make bricks without clay or straw, or even fire. I think if we were actually making bricks, maybe it wouldn't be such of a problem. If would be obvious, even to clods like Rho See, that the bricks that we were making without straw were substandard, that the houses we were building were failing down, their bricks splitting in the sun and disolving in the rain.

Seeing Further

A Theory of Human Motivation by Abraham Maslow

The Understanding

O, reason not the need: our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous:

King Lear, Act II, scene 4

And the people spread out in all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for the straw. And the slave drivers were insisting, saying, “Finish your work for each day on its day, as when there was straw.”And the foremen of the Israelites, whom Pharaoh’s slave drivers had appointed over them, were beaten by men who were saying, “Why have you not completed your portion of brickmaking as before, both yesterday and today?

The Bible – Exodus Chapter 5, Verses 12-14.