“If you can just find a few dollars in the budget for some crepe paper, we can find the rest of the stuff we need around the school.”

Karen Fletcher is trying to feign interest but her interest is mostly devoted to the schedule she is holding in her hands. It’s the weekly teachers’ meeting and, as ever, there are more pressing issues.

Chirpy new arrival Mathilde Uithuizen’s eyes twinkle as she describes her plans for the school’s display but most of the teachers are just keen to get the meeting over with.

“I think it would be really great for the kids to see that we think their work is good enough to be displayed to everyone. Plus the current displays have been up for years.”

After the meeting, our reporter accompanies Uithuizen to inspect the state of the current displays. We pause outside classroom 4 in front of a map which shows Asia.

“A map is a pretty cool idea and definitely has some educational value,” our guide says. “The problem here is that there’s no such this as The Dutch East Indies anymore, nor Ceylon. The country we’re in is now called Viet Nam, not Annam. Plus I’m pretty sure the green pigment in this paint is made from arsenic.”

Outside classroom 2, we pause in front of another display. Eventes and Occurensies at our schoole reads a banner pinned to the top of the pegboard.

“Again, this is a nice idea,” says Uithuizen, “but this picture is from before the invention of the camera.” She points to a tapestry which depicts a class of students dressed as characters from The Canterbury Tales in honour of national book week.

Uishuizen enter classroom 3 and reaches up to take down a brittle parchment from the display board. “Hey!” interjects a portly, red-faced teacher in corduroy trousers. “Don’t take that down. It’s a grammar reference chart. The students might need to refer to it!”

“Since when do the students need to know when to use thee, thou, ye, and thy?” she asks.

The portly teacher walks away grumbling and muttering about respect for the history of the language.

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