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Stories from school and college

There’s Never A Wrong Time To Be Spiderman

, , , , | Learning | November 3, 2021

I was a librarian at a university. I was standing near the information desk, which is staffed by a student worker, when another student walked by dressed from head to toe in a Spiderman costume. This was nowhere near Halloween.

Student Worker: “Did you see him, too?”

It Would Be Too Easy To Make An “It’s Greek To Me” Joke

, , , , | Learning | November 1, 2021

Our library is in an area with a substantial proportion of immigrants, so we have a large selection of media for adults learning Swedish: language courses, grammar books in several languages, easy-to-read books, bilingual books, etc. 

A patron who’s learning the language from scratch and is still very much a beginner comes up and asks for “classics” she needs to read for a language class. I show her our shelf of easy-to-read classics — mostly nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century stuff adapted for beginners — but she shakes her head.

Patron: “No, not easy-read. Teacher say must be original to learn language and Swedish culture.”

She shows me the list of classics that the teacher says are required reading for a beginner’s language course: “The Iliad,” “The Odyssey,” “Don Quixote,” and “The Divine Comedy,” all with “original” underlined. That’s all. I can only assume this teacher Googled “classic literature” and decided that somehow, the best way to learn Swedish culture is by reading about mad Spanish noblemen and Greek gods.

Me: “Are you sure? These are very good, but the language in them…”

She shakes her head in the international sign of “I’m surrounded by idiots.”

Patron: “I know. Teacher say we must.”

Me: “Okay. Let me show you where those are.”

Sadly, we didn’t have the original in Ionic Greek, but she picked a 1908 translation of “The Iliad” in hexameter that most Swedes struggle to read, and I asked her to pass on my phone number to the teacher to help out with their next required reading list. I never heard from the teacher, but the patron has been back to borrow books that are more on her language level and her Swedish is improving a lot.

If This Teacher’s Not Careful, He’ll Be History

, , , , | Learning | October 28, 2021

This story takes place in the early 2000s. It’s the first day of school, and I make it to my first class with a few minutes to spare, so I choose my seat and set myself up comfortably to be ready as soon as possible when class actually starts. The teacher comes in, greets us, and begins the lesson. After a couple of minutes, I raise my hand.

Teacher: “Yes?”

Me: “I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. My schedule says I have math, not history.”

Teacher: “Oh, that class was moved. But I’ll let you stay if you can change the homepage on my computer. Right now, it’s set to [sexually explicit URL].”

The class all burst out laughing, but I knew how to do what he was asking, so I sat at the computer and brought up his web browser. Sure enough, it opened to [sexually explicit URL]. Much to several classmates’ disappointment, it displayed nothing but a “page not available” error. I showed the teacher how to change his homepage and then I went back to my seat and zoned out for the rest of the class. I made it to the rest of my classes just fine and was given directions to my math class.

The Science Of Sneaking Away

, , , | Learning | October 26, 2021

When I did my GCSEs, we were given a timetable of revision sessions during study leave. Attendance was mandatory unless you had an exam or something, and they were on the school site in our normal classrooms. 

The geography exams often clashed with my triple science revision sessions, and only three of the students in my class did not take geography. There’s not much a teacher can do for a class of three students, so our physics and chemistry teachers would just spend the hour chatting with us.

Our biology teacher, however, did not. We did not like him much; he was easily fooled by the other students and didn’t teach in a way we found effective. He also had the same surname as one of the guys in the class and would pull out his phone to show everyone pictures of his adult son and say, “Doesn’t he look so much like [Student]?”

The three of us arrive to find out the geography students aren’t here, and the teacher says he just needs to pop out for a minute. He isn’t supposed to leave us unsupervised, but we have a reputation for being well-behaved. He comes in and out of the classroom a few times, and fifteen minutes into the lesson, he leaves for the last time.

I can actually be a bit of a brat when it comes to teachers I don’t like. I’m bored of “pointless” revision and come up with the bright idea to start messing with his stuff — only little things like swapping his coffee mug with his water bottle, but messing nonetheless. I successfully resist the urge to throw his laptop out the window, but only because the other two students point out that it would not be great if it landed on someone.

Eventually, I get bored of that, too, because all that’s left to mess with is other students’ work, and I do have standards. That’s when my classmates tell me two of the revision sessions have been assigned for the same time — maths and chemistry — and ask which we’re supposed to go to.

At this point, we’ve been left alone for about half an hour, and we have no clue if the teacher is coming back for the last fifteen minutes. Our chemistry teacher’s room is just opposite this one. Surely it’d be fine to just pop over and ask her which we should go to, right? We’ve no teacher, so we’re not technically skiving, right? I manage to talk them into it and we go, leaving our bags and stuff to prove our intent to return. It turns out that our chemistry teacher is meeting with the head of the science department. 

Chemistry Teacher: “[My Name], [Girl #1], [Girl #2]? What are you three doing out of class?”

Me: “We had a question about which revision session to go to, and Mr. [Biology Teacher] went somewhere, so we came to ask you now.”

Science Department Head: “Where did he go?”

Girl #1: “We… don’t know.”

Girl #2: “He didn’t say when he’d be back.”

Our chemistry teacher has a look at the revision timetable and answers our questions while the head leaves to check the classroom we just came from.

Science Department Head: “When did he leave?”

Me: “At quarter past.”

Girl #2: “He came in and out a few times before then, too.”

Science Department Head: “Right… Well, can you three stay in the classroom in case he comes back?”

We go back and just chat until the bell rings. This is our last lesson of the day, so it’s time to go home. As we exit the classroom, our chemistry teacher is outside and she has cupcakes.

Chemistry Teacher: “Hey, I know you’re all a bit upset from being left alone so I brought you these.”

We were not actually upset about not needing to deal with the biology teacher, but we each took two cupcakes anyway at our teacher’s insistence. Then, we saw the biology teacher exit a classroom on the other side of the corridor, avoiding eye contact as he made his way back. When we saw the science head on our way out of the building, we told him about it. He did not look happy.

I left that school when my GCSEs were done and didn’t keep in contact with anyone from the younger years, so I have no clue if the biology teacher ever faced any consequences.

An Un-beer-lievable Cop Out

, , , , , , | Learning | October 24, 2021

It’s 2016, and I’m a senior in high school attending a career tech for visual design. The student organization that my program and a few others are involved with has set up an assembly with some police officers about drugs and alcohol.

Most of this year in our program was spent doing major assignments, preparing for competition, or working on our senior projects. This, combined with the fact that I’ve had a few cousins struggle with addiction and have heard stories through my grandma, leaves me less than happy to have my time wasted on something I’ve heard already, rather than working on projects.

I hmm and haw my time through the lecture, scoffing to myself at things I’ve falsely had hammered into my head a thousand times like, “Marijuana is a gateway drug,” and, “There is no such thing as medical marijuana,” and thinking about how a five-minute talk from my grandma could leave a better impression. At one point, I notice that one officer is wearing a [Beer] shirt and mentally laugh at the irony.

At the end of the lecture, the officers ask if there are any questions and another student raises his hand.

Student: “Yeah, I noticed you’re wearing a [Beer] shirt, and honestly, it makes me question what you guys are talking about. I just couldn’t help but notice.”

The officer wearing the shirt proceeded to GO OFF on the kid, going on about how it was “just a shirt” and how he “just picked out a shirt from his closet,” which left the whole room feeling uncomfortable by the end of his rant.

I’m glad I wasn’t the one to point it out!