There are not many people who like the sound of the words, “Wakey! Wakey!” In relation to that, someone has written that “There are two kinds of people: morning people and people who want to kill morning people!” Someone else wrote that “I wake up with a good attitude every day. Then idiots happen.” People all around the world struggle to wake up. Another author wrote that “Me & Morning don’t see eye to eye, mostly because I don’t want to open mine!” Then, there is the one who said that “The mind is a wonderful thing – it wakes up when you do and falls asleep when you reach the office.” Does it all sound so familiar? If it is hard for us as teachers, how much harder is it for our pupils, all the more so when they have been up half the night on Instagram or other social media?

So what is the best way to waken people in the mornings (without being killed in the process)? All sorts of different approaches have been suggested. There are those who will try to poke or tickle or drip water on the sleeping beauty. Others may try to be more subtle and turn the cartoon channel up loud, cook bacon or simply send a text – difficult for any teenager to ignore such tempting offers. The good old alarm clock does not work so well although it has some hope: “The only thing preventing me from smashing my alarm clock this morning is the fact that it is my cellphone.” As teachers we would like to believe our pupils are awake when they arrive at school. Yet our calling is to waken them. No less an authority than Einstein has defined the role of the teacher by saying “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” That is a wonderfully creative expression of what our calling is all about and well worth our further consideration and contemplation. Being the ‘supreme’ art of a teacher, it is the highest level to which we should aspire and all of us as teachers should be looking to scale such great heights. It should not be seen as a chore, a burden, a weight; it is the ‘supreme’ calling. Let us not forget that!

Secondly we are well to remember that this is an art, not a science – as an art, it is going to be creative, imaginative, fresh, untainted, personal. It will be colourful, not black and white; it will be explorative, explosive, expansive! It will be active, inventive, multi-dimensional. It will be a joy! We have the incredible invitation, privilege and opportunity to awaken that dormant soul, to introduce the child to a whole new day and world with vast potential. We do not need to pour new things into their minds; we just need to waken them to great joy, the joy that will be found in
creative expression. We are the heralds and harbingers of joy!

A teacher shared how, having seemed to have waded laboriously and unproductively through the set novel with the weaker set of pupils, he wept when at page two hundred, out of two hundred and eight pages, one of the pupils came up to him at the end of the lesson and declared: “Gosh, it’s getting good now, sir!” At last! At last there was a reaction, an expression, a delight, an enthusiasm. Something had awoken in the young boy’s mind and heart! He was awake with the excitement of what was before him. He may have only been able to express it in a few plain words but creative expression had been awoken in him. In truth it was not just one of those moments that all teachers long for but also in all likelihood it was one of those moments that all pupils long for! How they long for exciting, enjoyable, uplifting, inspiring lessons, lessons that awake and make them sit up eager for more! Many of us as teachers will remember that first awakening in our subject that one of our teachers had helped us discover, so we need to be inspired to do the same for our own pupils.

It is hard to awaken the creative expression in our pupils, for sure, as it is hard to awaken a teenager in the morning. However as we might have tried to poke, tickle, or drip water on them as they lay in bed or teased them with hints of promise and delight, so we can tease, seduce, inspire them into a fresh delight in our subject, even in the unlikeliest times. That is our supreme art – find it! Find ways to awaken the joy of creative expression and knowledge in your pupils. This is in truth our own wake-up call as teachers! It is time that we wake up to the fact that it is our calling to wake our pupils up to the awareness that there is infinite joy in creative expression and knowledge!

Wakey, wakey! Rise and shine!