It’s “Really New” Zealand

, , , , , , | Learning | February 3, 2018

(We are writing about the histories of English-speaking countries for a project on colonialism. This happens when I read out a history of New Zealand in front of the class.)

Me: “People have only lived in New Zealand for approximately 700 years. It may be as long ago as 800 AD, but—”

Teacher: “No, [My Name], I need a history of the natives, not the settlers.”

Me: “But the Māori only arrived in New Zealand from the Pacific in what would have been the medieval times in Europe.”

Teacher: “When I said a history of New Zealand, I didn’t mean just the white people. The white people may have arrived then, but tell me what year they came from Australia, shall we?”

Me: “No, really, it was less than a thousand years ago. They didn’t come from Australia; they came from the Pacific Ocean. And Europeans weren’t interested in places outside of what they already knew until after Columbus came back from America. Well, roughly. So, everything you’re saying is wrong.”

Teacher: *passive-aggressively* “Hmm, I think I’ll be the judge of that.”

(I got a C.)

This Schooling Is Going Down, I’m Yelling Timber

, , , , , , | Learning | February 2, 2018

(It’s the first day back at university after winter break. I’m in a class of fourth-year students doing a history course on the American Civil War.)

Lecturer: “Welcome back, everyone. I hope you had a good break. Now, everyone knows what day it was yesterday, right?”

Classmate: *immediately and enthusiastically* “Pitbull’s birthday!”

(It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.)

Don’t Kick A Trojan Gift-Horse In The Mouth

, , , , , | Learning | January 12, 2018

(I’m a librarian. A woman comes in about 15 minutes before closing and asks for photos of the Trojan War for her fifth-grader to use in a school project. I do some searches and find quite a few, from carvings on urns to paintings to drawings of the Trojan horse, and portraits of Helen of Troy.)

Customer: “But those aren’t real. I need photographs, not pictures of drawings and paintings.”

Me: “I’m sorry; there aren’t any photographs of the Trojan War. It’s a myth, like stories of the Greek gods.”

Customer: “But I need photographs! That’s what the teacher told them they had to have! I don’t want my child to fail this project because you can’t find them.”

Me: “I’m sorry. I’m not explaining this right. The Trojan War was about 4,000 years ago. That’s 2,000 years before Jesus was born. Photographs weren’t invented until the early 1800s, about 200 years ago. So, the Trojan War happened thousands of years before cameras and photographs were invented. That’s why there are no photographs.”

Customer: “The teacher specifically said photographs. Can’t you look again?”

Me: “You know what? I think there was a miscommunication with the teacher. I’m sure if you tell her what I just told you, everything will be fine.”

Customer: *near tears* “But the project is due tomorrow. What if you’re wrong?”

Me: “Tell you what. Why don’t you choose some of these pictures, anyway? I’ll write a note to the teacher explaining why you have them instead of photographs, with my name and phone number in case she has any questions. Teachers usually make exceptions when we explain why we aren’t able to get exactly what they require.”

Customer: “Then, it’ll be your fault instead of mine.”

Me: “Right.”

Customer: “Well, it’s not what I want, but I guess I don’t have a choice.”

At Least You’re Alive To Watch The Real Life

, , , , , , | Friendly | December 6, 2017

(I’m outside at my college on the morning of September 12, 2001, before class. We are in the United States.)

Girl: *to a friend* “Look, like, I get, like, it’s a big deal, or whatever, but I don’t know why even MTV has to talk about it. Why do I have to miss TRL because of some stupid planes?”

I Came, I Saw, I Stupid

, , , , , | Learning | November 5, 2017

(My advanced-placement world history class is talking about the classical empires, and my teacher has started talking about Julius Caesar.)

Teacher: “Because of Julius Caesar, and his impact on the Roman Empire…”

Student #1: “Wait, what? Julius Caesar was a real person? I thought he was made-up!”

Student #2: “Yeah! I thought Shakespeare just made him up! He was real?”

Teacher: *sighing* Yes, [Students], he was a real person.”

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