Wednesday, February 11, 2009

@ work humor

Teaching is a lot like parenting other people's children in 90-minute doses. Except at any given time, I have 30 or so darling teenagers attentively hooked to my every word struggling to stay focused on their school work. My job is so much more than teaching my subject. Some days I am a confidant for students needing to vent. Other days I am a mediator. Sometimes I am even a counselor called upon (or voluntarily) dishing out the appropriate divine wisdom story that begins "In my experience..." It's a lot of responsibility hidden within the part of my contract that reads "and other duties as assigned."

I think I'd lose my mind if it weren't for this: my students say/write the funniest things. Seriously, I can't make some of the stuff I hear up - it's that odd/humorous/ridiculous. Take, for instance, the time we were studying a poem by Langston Hughes. The poem has a line that goes like this:
"I like a pipe for Christmas present,
or records - - Bessie, bop, or Bach."
And of course, since the poem is written in the mid-1900s (not so long ago really, but anything before 1990, like my birth date, is ancient to these kids), I began to explain what the referenced music was. "Bop is jazz. Bessie (smith) is a Jazz singer. And Bach - - "

And a student - one who has never before spoken about the topic of a single lesson all year - chimes in: "Bach? That's the guy on the popcorn box."

She said it so matter-of-fact. I stifled a chuckle (though my eyes teared at her contribution and I couldn't help but smile). Then, in my best "acknowledge the comment as valid and gently correct guide the student in the right direction" response, I said, "Oh, Orville Redenbacher, the popcorn guy. The poem's talking about musicians. Johann Sebastian Bach played and composed classical music."

And then there's the quick slip ups found in hastily completed assignments:
"The coconut that Romeo didn't go to bed last night."
Huh? The student actually meant to say conversation, but wrote coconut. I'd hate to think of this as a Freudian slip up, because what could she have been thinking about that involved coconuts?

It's times like these that I really enjoy myself despite having read the same piece of literature 4-5 times in a given week and then forced my students to find their own meaning from the text at hand spoon-fed the meaning of it.

No comments: