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.


Top Hat said...

I know what you mean. I substituted earlier this year for a high school health class and overheard a "My mother is so dumb" conversation. I'm pretty sure her mother is not dumb and probably wouldn't appreciate her telling her friends that. It actually really upset me that the girl would talk like that. But I guess that's high school for you.

ambrosia ananas said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that high school teachers don't count as people in most students' eyes. Just as Authority Figures.

L'Afro said...

With the exception of a high school government class on the ethics of mandating a vaccination, I rarely thought out of the box in high school. Except that I wore double-knit polyester and said exactly what I thought. But that didn't happen every day.

the pope said...

I admire your stamina for actually re-entering the public school system. I hated high school while I was in it for the very reasons you outlines. Sure, I described things as gay for my fair share, and I didn't listen to some of my teachers, but the general disrespect and close-mindedness always drove me crazy. Kudos to you for trying to help those poor poor souls.