The squabs are gone. No one saw them go. To be honest, I had forgotton about them until now. But they have flown the nest. And they’ve left it in a bit of a state.
Newly-fledged birds flying the nest might seem the ideal jumping off point for a post on learning, and growth, and maturity. But in truth most of our students are fully-fledged long before they arrive here; our job is more like those volunteers who rescue seagulls from oil-slicks, the oil in this image being the accretion of error and bad habit, perhaps. Our students come in looking a little dishevelled and bewildered, and we scrub them up with a toothbrush (not literally!) and send them back out to their native habitat.
Not just restored, however, but better-equipped – and here my analogy breaks down, since I’m not sure how you better-equip an albatross, say, for life at sea. People, unlike squabs or gulls, are tool-using animals, and in the knowledge economy a more sprightly, less encumbered command of English counts as a useful tool.
And so we wish both our departed squabs and our out-going students not a tearful, but a proud farewell.
And I should perhaps offer up a toast. Tomorrow, for those who don’t know, is World Sake Day. Here at OISE we are right behind this initiative and indeed all World Alcohol Days. Unfortunately we are unable to pursue our enthusiasm in any sort of active way here at the school (not least because sake is a little hard to come by in Cambridge; by which I mean, they don’t sell it at the Co-op), which perhaps is just as well. We don’t want to encumber our students’ mental tool-kit any more than necessary.