Friday, November 30, 2007

(untitled 201)

It's been a little while since I've been in the high school environment, so I'd forgotten some of the quirks of the scene. Notable among them is the vocabulary. Political correctness has driven the word "gay" out of the common parlance nearly everywhere except for high schools, where it can mean just about anything you want it to. Among the probably hundred or so times I've heard the word this week were the following:

"The Scarlet Letter is so gay." (Oh, the irony that a book written about heterosexual adultery would be called gay.)
"Look at the gay hats those Jews are wearing!" (Perhaps they meant goy?)
"What a gay class this is."
"Dude, that's so lesbian."

It's already to the point where I had to be very careful telling a girl in my Japanese class the word for "art" when she asked me. (It's geijutsu, incidentally, with the gei pronounced just like you might think.)

Also notable is a complete inability to think outside the box. I like these kids, most of them, but I'm consistently surprised that they can't (or won't, I'm not sure which) infer anything from my assignments other than exactly what I'm saying. An example: today, I gave my Japanese 1 students some sentences to translate. We were learning how to use negatives, and so I gave them a list of questions to respond to in the negative. (Pardon me, but are you Takeshi? No, I am not Takeshi. And so on.) One of the questions asked if the students were seventeen years old. One student raised his hand and asked what he should do if he were seventeen. I assumed he was kidding at first, but he seemed very earnest. I told him to go ahead and lie, though I felt a little guilty about it.

I'd also forgotten how rude and disrespectful students can be. Several of them actually did dances of joy when I told them I was replacing their regular teacher, expressing the depths of their hatred for her. This lady is a perfectly normal person, having done nothing to deserve any of the treatment she was receiving. I've had my fair share of it as well, hearing students yell out in class how gay the lessons are (see above) and about how pointless the assignments are. Does no one teach these people that saying things like that is rude and unacceptable in general society? Or do I just not count as a person because I'm a teacher and not a friend?

This is what inspired my previous post about jerkhood, incidentally. And yes, Mozilla Firefox, I know that "jerkhood" isn't a word recognized by your dictionary. You get to deal with it.

I also routinely get to pick up shredded pieces of paper that students destroy and leave all over my floor. I enjoy ripping things up as much as the next person, but I've never felt it appropriate to destroy things a teacher handed out and leave them all over the floor. Maybe that should have gone in the rude paragraph.

At any rate, I still really enjoy the experience, despite everything I've said above. I throughly enjoy teaching. It's just that I'd forgotten what it was like to be in a high school. Welcome back, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(untitled 200)

I was offered a position as a long-term substitute teacher, and while it's not the permanent position I was looking for, it's a start, so I took it. I started teaching yesterday, and I remember why it was that I wanted to be a teacher in the first place. I love being able to correctly explain new ideas to kids, be a positive role model for them, and I especially love seeing the look of dawning comprehension when someone finally gets a particularly difficult concept. It's terribly rewarding, even if they pay isn't. (cliche!)

What I'd forgotten is that for each of those satisfying moments, there are five or six annoying ones to deal with. My last class today had one student in particular who seemed like she had made it her personal mission to be as obnoxious as possible. She got to me at first, but I trained myself to tune her out by the end of the period. It got me thinking, though. Many of my classes have annoying students like that. That's something that you come to expect as a teacher. The average classroom is probably an average cross-section of people I'm likely to meet in life; attendance is compulsory, at least at this stage. So if one in every twenty or thirty students in each class is obnoxious, it stands to reason that one in every twenty or thirty people I meet in life are going to be obnoxious, too.

As many of five percent of the people I run into are going to be complete jerks, and there's not a whole lot I can do about it. That's a sobering thought. I always just assumed that people who were jerks in high school would just grow out of it, but the more of the real world I see, the less I'm inclined to think so.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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Thoughts and musings:

I took a call at work last night that really got me worked up. It's not even that this woman was doing anything particularly frustrating. She was standing somewhere that was noisy, and instead of moving somewhere quieter, she just kept asking me to speak up. By the end of the conversation, I was near shouting, and to a point where everyone else in the building could hear me. (It's a big building.) I drove home still steaming from the conversation. I was irritated, and I felt pretty justified in being irritated. And then, after about half an hour of letting myself be irritated, I realized that someone perfect - someone like the Savior - wouldn't have let something like that get to them. And that I'm just not perfect yet. That's not a bad thing, since I am, after all, human, but it reminded me - quite forcibly - just how far I have to go. It's a good thing I have a lifetime and more to work on it.

Sometimes, I put on a CD that I haven't listened to in a while and wonder how I ever forgot about it. Listening to The Crane Wife today brought me back. I could listen to "The Island" forever.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago that I watched Louis Armstrong leap across a parking lot, suddenly bound a few stories into the air, and then crash into the pavement, dying instantly. It came as a shock to the nation, especially since they had found out earlier that day that Marilyn Monroe had also died - and it all coincided with the end of Survivor: Canada. It was all too much for America to bear. I walked past a traffic sign consoling a grieving and wounded nation. Dreams are weird sometimes.

The invitations are finally printed and done. That's about the last thing to take care of before the wedding. I hope.

Sometimes I think about just packing in the blog for good. I still like writing and all, but sometimes it's hard to come up with clever ideas. They just don't hit me as often or as powerfully anymore. Maybe I'm just in a down phase.

I'd really like some Goldfish crackers right about now.

I started reading an Orson Scott Card book that wasn't Ender's Game or Ender's Shadow at the behest of a co-worker last week. I've read several more in the meantime. Man, they're pretty good. I wish I'd known about them earlier.

I still worry that some sort of demon will reach out from under my bed and devour me at night when all the lights are off. I'm usually safe once I'm off the floor, but not always. You're never too old to be afraid of the dark.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

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A ponderable for the ages: why do my farts smell like barbecue sauce?

Definitely time to start eating healthier.