At this startling announcement, attention, which had been flagging, was suddenly riveted on the headmistress, and a hush fell on the room.
"Give lessons to each other?" Kathie Ferrars repeatedly blankly, staring at the headmistress in consternation. "But, why?"
The scheme had originated in the keen brain of Miss Annersley, prompted thereto by some of the things she had seen on her tour of inspection of various European schools, and consultation with both her co-Head and her temporary replacement had developed the idea into the final proposal which had taken the rest of the staff somewhat by surprise.
"Because," Miss Annersley explained, smiling round at the shell-shocked mistresses, "Miss Wilson and I are agreed that the Chalet School can boast of having the finest teaching staff to be found anywhere in Europe. That being the case," she continued, as several of the mistresses blushed pink at the unexpected compliment, "who better to learn from than each other? We each have different styles and techniques, and I'm sure we can all learn something."
"That's all very well for those people who teach the senior classes," Joan Bertram objected, still looking stunned, "but what I can possibly teach the rest of you, I simply can't imagine. I don't suppose that junior spelling and dictation would give anyone much to think about."
Sharlie, who had similar concerns, nodded her head in agreement, and Hilda hastened to reassure them. "My dear girls, don't look so worried. It's your teaching methods we all want to observe, not the content of your lessons. You may teach anything you like. Within reason," she added cautiously, seeing several people's eyes light up in unholy glee. "I'm not playing leapfrog or shinning up ropes or anything else of the kind, Peggy Burnett, so you may bear my advanced age in mind when planning your lesson."
"Will it be compulsory?" Sharlie Andrews asked hesitantly. "It's just that these few days before the girls get back are busy at the best of times, and if we have to plan and administer extra lessons, well..."
Her voice trailed off as she looked to her colleagues for their agreement.
"There's no need to plan anything special," Hilda reiterated. "Just choose one of the lessons you'd normally give. But if you'd really rather not, then you're free to abstain, this will not be compulsory for anyone. However," she added over a collective sigh of relief, "with the exception of Miss Dene, who has agreed to sit in to act as messenger and run any errands, those who decide not to teach a class will not be permitted to attend other classes. We're not looking for any smirking spectators. For those who feel they have something to contribute, the register will be in the office, so please give your name to Rosalie before Abendessen."
Thus it was that, after the evening meal, Miss Annersley, Miss Wilmot and Miss Dene had retired to the Study to prepare a timetable, where they were soon joined by Miss Wilson, who had temporarily decamped from St Mildred's to take up residence in the Head's annexe for the duration of the experiment.