Either the kids have been particularly funny lately or I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Here are a few stories from the archives.
Walking on Water
We were doing a story in our reading book about bugs. Harmless, right? How on earth could we possibly end up in a theological debate during a story about BUGS? Well, when you teach smart-asses, you get smart-ass answers.
One of the bugs pictured was a water-skeeter. Or at least, we always called it a water-skeeter*. You know, those bugs that look like spiders, but are not spiders, that walk on water? Well, there was a picture of one. And I asked what it could do that was special. Blank looks. So I prompt them, "Can many bugs walk on water?" "No, Teacher." "Can PEOPLE walk on water?" "No, Teacher." "Well, what can this bug do that is special?"
Before anyone could answer, sweet little Esther pipes up and says, "Christ could walk on water." Aw, shit. But before I could even think to answer her, Jason inquires incredulously, "What? Chris in Sal-Teacher’s class??"
I’m trying so hard not to laugh at this point. Chris, aka "The Mad Pooper", could never walk on water. That fat little bugger can barely walk around the hallways without going through something. I try to correct Jason by saying, "No, not CHRIS. CHRIST. Jesus CHRIST."
More blank looks. Idiots. So I ask Esther how to say "Jesus" in Korean. She complies. More blank looks. And now the questions are coming about how Jesus was able to walk on water. And why. Esther proclaims, "because he is the son of God". Crapsticks! Now I’m trying to explain that SOME people believe that, and what a miracle is, and… and … and I’m getting no where. So I finally go into the staff room and ask Janet-Teacher to explain to the children who Jesus was, what he did, and why he could do it. She was visibly confused and asked, "What are you teaching them?"
To which I answered, "I’m teaching them about fucking BUGS!!"
So, sometimes when I’m teaching the kids, I may be a little harsh on the Americans. It may be a trifle telling that I am capable of saying "I am NOT American" in Korean. But I can’t help myself. The American government has been up to a few dumb-ass things lately. And I’m sick of teaching American spelling. It seems… lazy. No "u" in anything. Retards. And the way they spell doughnut – don’t get me started. Where was I? Oh yes, America-bashing. So, one of the new teachers (who seems quite nice) is American. And she’s observing my Debate Class. This is a class where we have discussed the real reasons why America started the war in the Middle East. So now I’m dreading one of the kids saying something about Americans. Well, at one point, it did come up that Americans are sometimes up to no good. And to Brandy’s (that’s the teacher) credit, she said that Americans can, sometimes, be bad guys.
One of the girls in that class is Gina, my little poet. And she mentioned on Friday (when we were not being observed) that she felt as though we had hurt Brandy-Teacher’s feelings when we talked about the bad things Americans had done. So we had a discussion about how even though we may not like what some Americans do, it is not fair to think of ALL Americans in the same way (I reminded them how kick-ass Joe-Teacher had been) and they agreed. We discussed and defined "prejudiced" (they may only be 10, but they rule). At the end of the discussion Gina concluded by saying, "Teacher, I don’t hate Americans. I just hate their stupid president."
Atta girl, Gina! Atta girl!
I have always been the first to admit that I don’t always teach the kids what they are supposed to be learning. But I like to think that I do teach them certain things that may serve them well if they ever actually go to an English-speaking country.
I now have just four girls in my debate class – Gina, Jessica, Sarah, and Chris. They are very cool and extremely smart. It is a fun class and I enjoy it.
Last week, about 15 minutes before the bell rang, Gina turned to Jessica and said, "Did you ‘bahm’"? Jessica replied, "No, why?" To which Gina said, "Well, I heard something and now I smell something. You are sitting right there."
They said all this very calmly and like adults. I’m at the other side of the table trying not to pee my pants laughing. I can be very mature at times, but at other times… well, look. I can’t help it. Farts are fucking funny. And then I realize that Gina used a Korea word for fart. So very calmly (on the outside, good thing I took acting in university) I ask Gina, "Do you not know how to say what you said in English?"
They didn’t. So I gave them the word "fart". They all wrote it down (they are good students). Jessica is very good at making sure she fully understands everything, so she asked a follow-up question. "Teacher," she began, "so, if my dad does this, should I say to him, ‘Father, did you do a fart?’"
It is taking every ounce of will-power I have not to start crying with laughter at this point. I gently correct her, "No, Jessica. You do not ‘do’ a fart. It is usually used as a verb, although it can be a noun – Do you smell a fart? – or an adjective – You little fart. So the proper usage would be: I fart, you fart, he, she, or it farts, they fart, we fart."
Then I thought about it a bit and realized the following truth which I shared with the girls (who are taking notes), "Although we rarely use "to fart" in the present tense. It is usually past tense as we talk about it after the fart has taken place. So, in actual fact, you would say: I farted, you farted, he, she or it farted, they farted, we farted. Rarely do you use it in future tense, and then you would say it only about your self and as a warning, ‘I am going to fart.’"
This grammar "lesson" had now deteriorated to a point even beyond the water skeeter lesson for sheer ridiculousness. But I forged ahead. I asked if they had more than one word for "fart" in Korean. They do. They asked if we did. I said we did. I gave them the more "proper" term "flatulence" (which finally made them giggle). I also explained that "fart" was a slang word and that there were many others. I decided we had time enough to learn one more.
I explained the usage – if you smell a fart and don’t know who did it: "Who’s dropping bombs in here?" Or if you want to lay blame on someone specific: "Are you dropping bombs?"
The kids don’t always understand that there may not be a direct meaning for an English saying, but they were into dissecting this one. So I was trying to explain why we used "dropping bombs" and I didn’t think it was going well until Jessica asked the other girls, "How do you say (insert Korean word here) in English?" and Gina replied, "poison" that I realized they were getting it after all. They decided that the "bombs" in question must, in fact, be "poisonous gas bombs".
They spent the rest of the class practicing the right intonation for their new vocabulary and waving their hands in front of their faces in a disgusted manner. I love them!
*for those of you too lazy to check out the wikipedia entry, you may be interested to know that the bug’s real name is "water strider". On a related note, the bug has many nicknames… one of which is "Jesus Bug". True story.