Monday, 10 June 2013

The Wrong Backrest

Bob has agreed that a backrest for the new bike is a good idea. Then on Friday, I learned the Romanian word for backrest. It is spatar. I know no other words in this language- so why this one?

Well, I was doing some supply teaching, and the class [Year 6, 10 year olds] had a lesson in the ICT Suite. They had to prepare a PowerPoint presentation comparing Athens and Sparta, as part of their history topic. “They can do PP stuff, and will be able to find information and pictures on Internet Explorer – don’t worry! They will know exactly what to do” I was told.

As you might imagine, many began with the title page, in rainbow colours, with “Athens and Sparta” flying in, or fizzling out. There was plenty of animation, and much cut-and-paste of chunks of text [I suspect most of it completely incomprehensible to the pupils themselves]


“It is better to have 5 slides, each with a small amount of text, rather than just one with lots of words on it” I said – but my words fell on deaf ears.

“Less is More” was not a concept they paid much attention to.

“Do break up all that text with some interesting pictures” I pleaded – and quite a few decided to play around with Google images.

spartansathens tourist

Unfortunately some of them used clips from the recent film – or pictures of Greek ruins with tourists and cameras!

Then I heard much excitement in one corner, with a crowd of boys all clustered round one PC making...appreciative noises. The images were all of a rather scantily clad young female! “She is not an Athenian warrior!” I said, and leaned across and closed the tab. “But I didn’t mean to get these pictures, Miss, I just typed in Sparta, honest!” declared the boy. He did look a little embarrassed, and I believed him. I stayed at that end of the room for a while.

A couple of lads tried to retrieve this exciting set of pictures, but failed miserably. They hadn’t spotted [as I had] that the initial search had been mis-spelled, the boy had typed Spatar not Sparta, and fortunately the boys didn’t appear to know about the ‘history’ facility to retrieve previously viewed pages.

christina backrest

When I got home, I typed in Spatar – and discovered two things – first, spatar is the Romanian word for backrest, and second, that Cristina Spatar is a glamorous Romanian pop star, given to wearing somewhat skimpy costumes. I am posting a photo of her, in her less revealing wedding dress!

For once I am glad that my pupils did not spot their spelling mistake –but I am left wondering why this successful singer didn’t change her name before going into showbiz – what kind of girl wants to find fame as “Cristina Backrest”??!!


  1. Oh death by Powerpoint. From Primary to the grave. I had a very bad Google images experience in a class once!

  2. We never had that problem with our dusty old history books!
    Jane x

  3. The things we learn from typos! Oh, the places we will go! We're having some issues here with Will bringing home interesting info from friends about what Websites are loads of fun. Fortunately, he works on computer within our sight, and the Man figured out pretty quickly what was going on and shut it down. We used to be worried about him stumbling on sites by accident--like by typing in Spatar instead of Sparta--but now that he's almost eleven, our concern is the ones he's seeking out on purpose. Sigh ...


  4. How funny - the internet is a wonderful place! Jx

  5. I remember the first time I was let loose on PowerPoint. All the lovely jumpy, jiggly letters. Too tempting to ignore and provide sensible slides!

  6. Oh I love the Athens v Sparta lesson. Except I have a MASSIVE heap of statements about the two cities and I tell them a little about them and their attitudes and then keeping those simple facets in mind, they have to produce a document in the 1st person talking about themselves. Always an interesting lesson in terms of the inferring on the more subtle statements! I loathe doing powerpoints for that reason. I used to do their ICT assessment on their Greek powerpoints and terrified them every year by telling them the true story of someone on my course whose degree was taken away from them in retrospect when it was discovered they had plagiarised an internet document in doing it (and won a prize for it)- they always then tried to do it in their own words!

    Yes, why on earth didn't she change her name?!x


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