The Cursive Curse

, , , , | Learning | June 15, 2018

(I am in the second grade, age seven to eight or so, during the mid-seventies. Over the summer my mother, has taught me how to write cursive. I have an older brother, so she knew that later on that year we’d be learning it, so I guess she figured she’d give me a head start. In class I am taking notes. The teacher comes to my desk, sees what I am doing, and tears that page out of my notebook!)

Me: “Why did you do that?”

Teacher: “I haven’t taught that yet!”

(She made me take my notes in print until SHE taught us cursive later in the year.)

Try Walking A Mile In Another Wizard’s Shoes

, , , , , | Learning | June 11, 2018

(A third-grade student can’t find her shoe at the end of the day. I give her a couple of suggestions of places to check for it.)

Student #1: “Miss [Teacher], I still can’t find it.”

Me: “Sorry, [Student #1], I don’t know what else to suggest. My shoe-finding spell doesn’t work very well.”

Student #1: “What do you mean?”

Me: *waving my pen as if it were a wand* “Oh, you know— Accio shoe!

Student #2: *from under a desk across the room* “Here it is!”

Student #1: *in awe* “It worked!”

A Fret About The Serviette

, , , , , | Learning | June 6, 2018

(I am a fourth-grade student in the late 90s. Our class is having snacks.)

Me: “Does anybody have a napkin?”

Teacher: “You don’t say, ‘napkin,’ [My Name]! This is Canada!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but what am I supposed to say? I need a napkin.”

Teacher: “Don’t say, ‘napkin’! ‘Napkin’ is an American term! We call them ‘serviettes’ in Canada!”

Me: “Okay, geez, does anybody have a ‘serviette’?”

Classmate: “Here, you can have one of my napkins.”

Teacher: “SAY, ‘SERVIETTE’!”

(We didn’t want to suffer through this any further, so pretty much the entire class tried to avoid saying, ‘napkin,’ around this teacher. I was always perplexed by this experience, because every time I went to the supermarket with my parents, I only ever saw napkins being sold; I have seen ‘serviette’ used as the French word for ‘napkin,’ but I’ve never seen it used as the Canadian English term. From fifth grade onwards, I’ve gone back to calling them ‘napkins,’ and haven’t gotten into any trouble well into my adult life. If I had to take anything positive out of this, it was probably what triggered my fascination with linguistics.)

Generation Gap In Their Knowledge

, , , , , | Learning | June 5, 2018

(I volunteer as a teacher’s aide at the same primary school as my father, who is in his late forties. We both have the same distinct last name, so everyone realizes that we’re related. Our exact relationship, however, confuses a lot of kids.)

Kid #1: “Hey, I know you! You’re [Dad]’s sister!”

Kid #2: “Are you [Dad]’s wife?”

Kid #3: “My friend told me that you were [Dad]’s mummy.”


Kid #4: “Hey, aren’t you [Dad]’s daughter?”

Me: “Yes, I am. Not a lot of people think I’m his daughter right away. They think I’m his sister, or his wife.”

Kid #4: “But that’s weird. You’re really young, and he’s really old. He’s like eighty, or something!”

(So close, kid. So close.)

Got To Hand It To Preemptiveness

, , , , | | Learning | May 22, 2018

(I’m in second grade when the 2009 H1N1 flu virus breaks out. My friend’s mother tells this story. Her daughter is in first grade at the time of the outbreak. Her mother decides to bring hand sanitizer for her class. She approaches a receptionist at the front office, and this conversation happens.)

Friend’s Mom: “Am I allowed to bring in hand sanitizer for my daughter’s classroom?”

Receptionist: “Sorry, we cannot allow this. It has alcohol in it and the children could accidentally drink it.”

(The next week, there was an announcement in the weekly flyer saying that hand sanitizer was required for all classrooms!)

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