The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classroom Randomness

At the beginning of this term, my Department Chair called me in a panic. It seemed that one of our English professors had some sort of mysterious "emergency" and was unable to teach. My boss asked me if I could please pick up two remedial classes in addition to my usual course load.

Despite the fact that I teach electives and haven't taught a remedial class since graduate school, all I could see were dollar signs, so I said yes.

Here are a few highlights from the remedial classes so far. Keep in mind, we're only a third of the way into the term:

(after explaining verb tense)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

CHRIS: Is it true that dudes used to play the girls' roles in Shakespeare's plays?

(after explaining complete sentence form)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

SHONTAY: I like the guy who works at my Blockbuster. Should I ask him out?

(after explaining the correct use of the semicolon)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

SARAH: Do you know Johnny Depp?

(after explaining noun-verb agreement)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

JOE: Is that your real hair?

(after explaining commas)

ME: Does anyone have any questions?

DOUG: Don't you think Drew Bledsoe sucks?

And then there were the following two incidents that happened just this week:

The class was reading aloud an essay in which Sigmund Freud was mentioned. The student who was reading mispronounced Freud's name as "Frood" (just like Bill and Ted!) I giggled and corrected him. Suddenly, another guy raised his hand and yelled out; "Who's Sigmund Freud?"

I opened my mouth to answer him, but before I could get anything out, another student (who is perpetually stoned) said; "I think he's that dude with the tigers."

At this point, the kid sitting next to him turned and said; "That's Sigfried and Roy, you dork!" And the class exploded in laughter.

In my second remedial class, we were reading an essay written by a man in the Ku Klux Klan. The essay was on "the problem of the black man." I explained to the class that when reading, you have to be very careful to know something about the author, as he/she might have a bias or prejudiced. "Can anyone think of another example?" I asked.

Jessica shot her hand in the air. "I'm afraid of midgets," she said.

I blinked. "Are you afraid they're going to get you somehow?" I asked.

"No, I just think they're freaky little half-people who don't deserve to live."

I asked; "Is this a debilitating fear?"

"Oh yeah," she said, nodding. "I've dropped classes and quit jobs because of midgets."

"Well," I said, amidst the weird looks the other students were giving her, "this doesn't sound like a prejudice as much as it does a phobia. I mean, you do think they should be given the same rights as average-sized people, don't you?"

"Oh, no," she said, "I don't think they have the right to be alive at all."

At this point, Steve, the guy who sits next to her, leaned in and said; "Dude...don't ever watch the Discovery Health Channel. It's like the all-midgets-all-the-time channel."

Jessica never came back to class again. I'm not sure what happened to her. Maybe the midgets got her.

And, to put icing on the cake, this morning one of my students burst into tears in the middle of class. When I asked her what was wrong, she sobbed that she had just broken up with her boyfriend and was now thinking of dropping out of college to join the Navy in order to "forget about him."

I am seriously considering applying for sabbatical.


  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger lostdwarf said…

    Oh. My. God. This is a serious argument for why teachers should be paid more.

    I worked with someone who had a midget phobia. From what I understand, even hearing them talk (which, I guess, to her was really high pitched, though I've never noticed that typically) or seeing them around, made her fall into the fetal position.

    She was strange.

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said…

    My mom has a midget phobia. She panics if she ever sees one. Seriously.


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