A Common Journey
The rest of the introductions unraveled like a blur. There were a range of personalities in the class, some talked about their greatest achievement, some just ended with a fun fact about themselves, but for the most part they all seemed like nice people.
Our tutor then went on to give us a rundown of the school.
“So now introductions are out of the way let’s get started shall we. For the rest of the hour I’m going to talk about the school and what you can expect for the next year. Please raise your hands if you have any question at any point”
He pointed the controller in his hand to the digital board and clicked it.
The first slide appeared with a pie chart split into three equal sections.
“Starting with what we teach here, there are 3 things that we focus on. Those are normal subjects like maths and English, essential skills and of course psychic skills.”
A hand shot up with an intensity that I had felt before. I couldn’t see his face as he sat in front of me and two desks to the right, but I had definitely come across him before.
Mr Smith stopped speaking and gestured to the person who raised their hand while looking at his register for their name.
“Yes, err…Ashley. You have a question?”
He put his hand down sharply and asked his question.
“I’m aware that currently we’ll be learning a lot of subjects, judging from our timetable. Will there be any opportunity to tailor those subjects to what our desired profession is?”
Now that I’d heard his voice I knew who it was. It was glas-No, he just said his name was Ashley so that’s what I should think of him as.
Still, the question definitely came from someone who knew what they wanted out of the school.
“That’s a good question, Ashley. Well for your 1st year we like to give a taste of everything, just like you have done before, and we’ve seen great improvement with this curriculum. In your 2nd year however, you will get the opportunity to narrow down the subjects you study if you wish to. Do you already have something in mind?”
Mr Smith didn’t hesitate with his answer and asked a follow up question.
“I’m going to be a software developer.”
“Oh ok, so you’d want to focus more on maths and computers then I imagine”
He nods and then someone in my line of desks at the front puts their hand up.
“Sorry, I’m sure you’ll get around to it, but what will we be doing in the essential skill lessons?”
Someone called Adam asked a question politely. To be honest I couldn’t remember either his or Ashley’s introduction so I wasn't sure what Adam was like.
“That’s alright, this presentation is more of a guide anyway. Besides I wanted this hour to be a discussion so I could get to know you all. To answer your question, we believe an active approach to learning these skills is best. So for example, to improve teamwork, which is a very important skill to have, we wouldn’t just tell you how to work in a team, but rather give you fun tasks that would strain your team working capabilities. The same would apply for all the essential skills.”
So skills that we would be learning from experience. I wonder what sorts of tasks we’d be doing then.
“Ah okay, that sounds good, thank you.”
“So what about the psychic lessons? I thought I’d ask since we’re going through all of them. Is there anything specific we should know?
Without putting her hand up, a girl at the front and to the right of the classroom asked a question casually. Looking at her closely, it was the one of the girls that first sat down when I was in the cafe. I remember her for being quite tall and having short, dark blonde hair.
Mr Smith answered, welcoming or even encouraging her casual attitude.
“Yes, so depending on your skill level we would start with the fundamental skills and skills that are useful for safety. You'll be placed in a set of 1-5 early on so what set you get placed in will decide what exactly you’ll learn, Olivia.”
So her name was Olivia then. Someone by that name talked about how they took part in the national psychic combat tournament for her age group. That must’ve been her then, hence the interest in what we’d learn in the psychic lessons.
“It’s not like we’d actually use our psychic abilities in the real world anyway.”
Ashley voiced his opinion, also without raising his hand now.
“Well that’s wrong”
Olivia was the one to answer back, nonchalantly.
“When would there ever be a scenario where I’d have to use them?”
Ashley challenged her with a question
She turned her body to him, accepting the challenge. She seemed the head strong type.
“There’s psychic specialists in all sorts of fields. Medicine and law enforcement to name a couple.”
She was right. There’s a big demand for people who can use their psychic abilities, especially in medicine as not only is it useful for surgery, if you have a very aptitude in psychic healing you can even encourage the healing process in general with psychic energy.
Ashley didn’t like this answer however.
“I didn’t ask about that. I asked when I’d use them.”
“Well if you're not going for a psychic job, then you’d obviously use it to help others wherever you end up. That's the whole point.”
“Hahhh… we’re arguing two different things here. Maybe I would use them once a year or even less but why would I dedicate so much time to something I’d use so little.”
He does raise a valid point. As, if you’d learn how to use your abilities to for example evacuate people from a burning office, the chances of having to actually apply this are very slim. It does raise another question though.
Olivia voiced it for me without mincing her words.
“Then why are you even here? It's a school that specialises in psychic powers.”
Olivia wasn’t angry or anything. She appeared genuinely curious more than anything.
I looked at Lucas who was watching it unfold like the rest of the class. He saw me looking at him and gave me a look as if to say “I’m not getting involved with this”.
Exasperated by conversation at this point, Ashley answered.
“Leaving aside the psychic aspect, it’s still one of the top schools in England.”
Olivia shrugged at that, losing interest.
“Well… I think you both make a good case anyway...”
Adam had his say on the matter, mediating the situation.
He looked at Mr Smith who hadn’t said anything for a while.
He looked to just be enjoying the scenery, smiling away.
“This is going to be a fun year.” He probably came to that conclusion based on the range characters in the class that we'd seen so far.
“Like Adam said though, people come to this school for different reasons, so it’s not like either of you are wrong.”
Mr Smith also gave his opinion, coming across very casually.
After that we went through the rest of the hour learning about the school and everything we needed to know. The mild spat between Olivia and Ashley must’ve acted as a sort of ice breaker as most of the class started joining in on the discussions after that. I didn’t partake, but I did enjoy the atmosphere.
“Right so we’re at about time now so I’ll leave it at that, you guys have maths next in the same block if I recall.”
The class nods.
“Oh, that does remind me. It’s part of the preparation list before term time commenced so you should all have the school app installed by now right? I’m sure you’ve all seen it’s features so I’ll just list them now rather than walk you through them”
He started to write on the electronic board quickly as he was running short on time.
“To sum it up, you have your timetable and a track record of any homework that is due.
He wrote out the two sections he just named.
“You then have the social aspect of the app. This allows you to communicate with anyone in the class, as well as with people from other classes and teachers if you need to.”
He wrote the word ‘social’ on the board. Everyone in the class was starting to pack so I followed suit. I didn’t get anything out of my bag for this lesson though so all I did was retrieve my bag from under the desk.
The bell rang but Mr Smith still had another thing to say so he spoke a bit louder.
“Finally, there’s also a section in the app that keeps track of all your individual scores in tests, what those add up to for the three sections I talked about earlier, and most importantly your overall score which is a combination of the three.”
So I get a combined score from my overall grades in essential skills, written subjects and from psychic lessons? I suppose it made sense to have an all encompassing grade.
At this point, people had started getting out of their seats to head to the next lesson.
“I’ll see you guys at the end of the day as I teach the psychic course as well! Hope you have fun!”
He waved us off as we set off to the next class.