Thursday, December 3, 2009

The 86 year-old-man club

Gah, teaching is crazy. Seriously, I have no idea how anyone does it, ever. EVER. I have a class on Thursdays that makes me want to do terrible things, to them and to myself. I was "this" close to calling in 'sick' this afternoon, but no, I had planned what I thought was a fun lesson around some American songs--fill in the lyrics, listen to music, have a good time. Is that what happened? Well, all but the 'have a good time' part.

There are four students in particular in this class that just make my life miserable...two boys and two girls, but I get the worst crap from the two boys. They dress like uber-riche hipsters, and are just simply and quite literally too cool for school. The ennui in their auras stands out so palpably I practically choke on it. I have the disturbing impression that they would commit murder, just to see if it was amusing, secure in the belief that they are invincible and could never be convicted. (The Law & Order episode has already played out in my head, casting and all. They play themselves, b/c L&O has become a reality show by this time in the future.) They make me want to make them cry. Like big, fat tears with real trauma that shakes them out of their hidey hole of determined un-impressioned-ness. I swear, if I was like that as a youngster (and I'm pretty sure I was, but without the murder part), I don't know how I wasn't sent off to get lost in Tibet.

Anyway, it started with me texting the teacher to tell her I had to switch classrooms so she would know where to send her students to meet me. She texts back that she's not even going to be there today (oh, thanks for telling me in advance) b/c she's getting her 18 month old daughter vaccinated for the swine flu. (eh?) Then she asks if she thinks I can handle the entire class, not just half of them like I normally do. I'm like, wha...? First of all, why are you not just canceling class altogether?? And secondly, HELL NO I won't take on 38 students all at once, I have enough trouble with half of them as it is! So she's like, cool, I'll send you some documents over email I want you to go over with them, and then you'll just teach one group of them like always. OK.

Needless to say, when I get to my new classroom, no one else is there b/c they're all at the old room. le. sigh. And then I discover that ALL OF THEM HAVE SHOWN UP. I'm like, um, dudes, I need Group 1 to stay and Group 2 to get perdus! Then they have an argument about which group is supposed to be there, blah blah. Anyway, I have no idea who actually stays and goes, but somehow we manage to settle down and start discussing documents about the goodness of being yourself and not conforming to what your friends think you should be. Whatevs. Drugs r bad, stay in school. Mmmmkay.

Maybe--yar, probably...I'm cool but I'm not THAT cool--these kids are so anxious to be with me b/c it's a break from the drudgery of their real classwork and the teacher that actually makes them drag out the discussion of two images for an entire hour. I simply can. not. DO that! You ID the doc, tell me what the message is, give me your opinion, and VOILA, case closed. It takes like 15 (maybe) minutes!! So I bust out the lyrics worksheet I'd typed up last night and started playing what I thought they would really like, a couple of non-typical American songs you'd hear at ACL and not on pop radio. We never even listened to one song twice...whenever I asked if they liked a song, those two friggin boys were like, "non, it's not good" or "non, I don't like the '80's," or whatever. (Yes, I played "Don't Stop Believin'"...I friggin LOVE that song and so does anyone with a sense of teh awezome!) Horrid Boy 1 did start singing along with "Behind Blue Eyes"...but even The Who couldn't rattle this boy into filling in lyrics or otherwise pretending to give a shit about anything but his own affectation of smugness.

So finally I give up...there's 15 minutes of class left and I'm like, OK guys, so what is it that you want to do next time? I always ask them this, and I always bring in a game or music or whatever it is they've decided on, and still it continues to suck. They batter around a couple of ideas about films, not even bothering to try very hard to speak in English...they think I can't understand them but oooh are they wrong and it's funny to jump in the middle of their conversations in answer to a question they are asking each other assuming I have no idea what they're saying.

Then Horrid Boy 1 tries asking about my favorite movies, and then books...we almost had a connection on Charlie Brown (I was discussing Christmas movies) but unfortunately he actually thought I'd said JACKIE Brown. (I got really confused when he got all excited and was like "Quentin Tarantino??") We even discovered that we both liked sci-fi (which I totally can't see in him, but whatever). Finally, thank the GODS, the bell rings and they all start packing up to leave. But lots of them take their time, including these Horrid Boys, and they linger and try to talk a bit like they don't really want to leave, and I'm like, WTF what is wrong with you, you HATE me, right! But then Horrid Boy 1 is like, "We must be bored for you, yes?" And I'm like, "Yar, you seem to be really bored," and his friend, Horrid Boy 2, corrects him, "you mean 'boring'", and Horrid Boy 1 looks up at me again and repeats it, like he cares what I think of them: "We must be boring for you." I'm like, "What?? NO you're not boring! [and they're really not...we should be having so much fun together...!] I'm the one who feels awful when I look out at you and see your faces" (and here I make a face that no one can mistake for anything but the worst case of ennui), and one of the other lingering students is like "It's b/c we're French!" To which I burst out laughing, but Horrid Boy 1 shrugs in his "that's not the real reason" and "nothing's good enough to bother me" way, says goodbye and finally leaves.

God. I came straight home and poured myself a generous splash of delicious cognac. Yes, I am Co-President, with Ageless, of the 86-Year-Old-Man club, in which we filles drink whiskey, bourbon and cognac like we're 86 year-old men.

It's a weird situation to be in: I'm not the real teacher, but I'm not one of "them;" I'm the exotic (haha) strange American who can speak better than their English teachers (show some RISPEK'), and there's no incentive but their own inner desire to do well and to learn. I'm doing the best I can and it really works well with lots of them, but the times when it falls so flat...gah, so discouraging. Do the Horrid Twins really care about what I think of them? Then why not try to at least pretend to have some fun, or at least try a dialogue of some sort, even if all they have to say is negative...I guess they can't look too nerdy in front of their friends in the class...maybe they went home and bought the songs on iTunes and listened by themselves over and over again until they filled in all the words on the pages...

I don't really care as much as it probably sounds like I do...I just needed to vent about today as I enjoy another teensy splash of fermented apples. At the end of the day they're just such younguns, and I'm an old, nearly-wise woman who has already realized there is more to life than the dramas of high school.

Plus, you know what...they would TOTES get beat up if they came to America looking like that...I'd like to see them get up in front of an American high school class and try to keep order! Karma's a bitch...oh gawd, what does that say about ME back in the day!!


1 comment:

Sonia said...

hahaha....the last paragraph is the best =)
i love reading your posts. wish i was there to experience it with you!! miss you!