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What A Bunch Of Animals

, , , , , | Learning | May 27, 2021

I’m on a panel of scientists giving a guest talk to a middle school. One of my colleagues is a zoologist. After introducing him, the teacher poses this question.

Teacher: “[Colleague] is a zoologist. Does anyone know what that means?”

Student #1: “Does he own a zoo?”

Colleague: “Not quite! You’re on the right track, though. Do you know what it means if we put ‘zoo’ in front of a word? What do you find in zoos?”

Student #1: “Peacocks?”

Colleague: “That’s a good example, but think more broadly! What do all zoos have that makes them zoos?”

Student #2: “Um… visitors who want to see the zoo?”

They Don’t Have Any Wisdom To Remove!

, , , , , | Learning | May 25, 2021

I teach sixth-grade science.

Student: “Miss! Have you gotten your wisdom teeth removed?”

Me: “Yes?”

My answer causes the student and his friends to start giggling.

Me: “Why is that so funny?”

Student: “Isn’t the phrase ‘getting your wisdom teeth removed’ code for ‘losing your virginity’?”

Me: “No, they do not mean the same thing! Why would you think so?”

Student: “Well, because both of those usually happen around the same time, so I thought…” *Shrugs and sits down*

Me: “No, they are two totally different things. Getting your wisdom teeth removed is having actual teeth removed from your mouth.”

Student: “Wait! Wisdom teeth are actual teeth?!”

There’s A Truly Terrible Place In Hell For People Like This

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2021

When I was young, I was pretty well known as a smart kid with a smart mouth. I was also known as the super short girl who always had a book. Luckily, my class was pretty nice — we didn’t have nearly as many bullying problems as other grades — because I would’ve been an extremely easy target. But whenever someone did pick on me, it made my blood boil.

Toward the end of middle school, I was in the last book of a series I’d been reading for several months. A boy I didn’t talk to all that often walked up to where I was reading at my desk.

Boy: “What are you reading?”

Me: “[Book].”

Boy: “Have you read it before?”

Me: “No, this is my first time!”

Boy: “[Favorite Character] dies.”

My little eighth-grade self was ready for murder. Sadly, he was correct, and my favorite character died, but he was later granted his life back. For the rest of the year, I used a cloth cover on all of my library books so the boy wouldn’t be able to spoil them for me again.

Inattentive About Attendance

, , , , , , | Learning | April 23, 2021

Back when I was in middle school, when students completed eighth grade, the school would have a “graduation” to celebrate the student’s move up to high school. This graduation was similar to high school graduation; however, it focused more on the achievements of students, with many awards given. From academic achievements to sports achievements, almost every student received an award.

I was always a high achieving student, but I was never the top one — I missed being in the top 5% of my graduating class from high school by one person, for example — so I knew it was unlikely I would receive any academic awards.

My claim to fame at the time was the fact that I hadn’t missed a day of school since kindergarten. I know, nowadays everyone realizes how bad it is to give an award for coming to school when sick, but back then it really mattered to me. To get the perfect attendance award at the graduation, you had to not have missed a single day of seventh and eighth grade: two full years of classes you had to go to. And I had.

This was additionally impressive because I had a birth deformity that caused me to have over a dozen surgeries by the time I graduated high school. Over my time in middle school, I had two surgeries. Despite being in tremendous pain and taking strong painkillers, I was always in school long enough for it to count.

The day before the graduation, I went to the front office to ask a question about something unrelated and got on the topic of graduation with the secretary who was assisting me. I asked about the perfect attendance award, and while she told me she wasn’t allowed to release the names of who was getting what award before graduation, she did know there was one name for that award. I thought that confirmed it; I was guaranteed at least one award.

The next evening was graduation. I was super excited, as is any student; we all thought we were so cool, about to start high school. The night was wearing on, and we got to the final few awards. I hadn’t received a single award, which I expected, but I wasn’t upset because I knew my award was coming. Finally, they announced the award, went on a spiel about how some years no one wins this award, but this year there was one!

I was getting ready to stand, as I was also on crutches for an unrelated injury to my ankle; the student sitting next to me knew I was expecting this award and had agreed to help me stand up when it came.

They announced the name… and it wasn’t me. I was so upset, and the other kid looked a bit confused. I almost started crying at graduation. The awards finished and I didn’t receive anything.

I found a friend and expressed how upset I was, and he mentioned that we should talk to the guidance counselor. We eventually found her, and I expressed how upset I was that my name wasn’t called for the award. She initially gave me some pushback — apparently, a computer program spits out the correct students for each award so it’s “never wrong” — but I pushed too. She said she would check as a favour to me, and we left her.

Before the end of the night, the counselor found me again with my parents. She told me she’d read the program incorrectly; I was the only person to get perfect attendance. The student whose name was called had only missed one day and was second on the list. She told me she would print out another certificate and get it dropped off at my homeroom for the next morning.

At this point, it meant nothing to me. As a middle schooler who was smart but not the smartest, athletic but not the most athletic, and going through what I would later realize was a depressive episode, this was supposed to be my one moment to shine. My homeroom teacher the next morning tried to make a point to present my award, but no one really cared. I got home and threw the award away.

I learned my lesson, though: my next surgery, I took an entire week off school and really milked my recovery period.

Eight years later in college, I now have problems seeing the importance of attending classes, because that one teacher let me down when it meant the most to me.

We Can Only Draw One Conclusion: SHE’S A WITCH!

, , , , , , | Learning | April 21, 2021

My two best friends and I are in sixth grade — age twelve — and have a mandatory art class. We are spending a week drawing houses. Our first assignment is to draw our own house.

[Friend #1] draws her house, but she forgets to draw one of her parents’ bedroom windows. That night, it storms very badly, and a tree falls in such a way that the window she forgot to draw is broken by a tree branch crashing through it.

The next day, we are supposed to draw a house that exists and that we wished we lived in. [Friend #1] draws [Friend #2]’s house, but she forgets to draw the garage. The previous night’s storm had affected the soil of the hill beside that house, and [Friend #2] comes home to find that a tree has fallen on the (empty!) garage. 

The next day, we are supposed to draw the house of a friend. 

Friend #1: “I guess I’ll draw your house, [My Name].”

Me: “Nope! Not allowed! No, thank you, please! I like my house perfectly intact and how it is, thank you very much!”

Friend #1: “But I already drew [Friend #2’s] house!”

Friend #2: “Yeah, and look what happened to it! And what happened to your house! If you forget to draw anything at [My Name’s] house, we won’t be able to go to her sleepover this weekend.”

Me: “Hey, weren’t you friends with [Former Classmate] before she moved?”

Friend #1: “Yeah, why?”

Me: “My mom’s coworker bought it, and Mom said they’re tearing it down so they can build their dream house! So if you mess it up with your weird drawing power, it won’t matter!”

Friend #1: “I don’t think I had anything to do with the garage or the windows, but fine, whatever.”

[Friend #1] draws [Former Classmate]’s house, forgetting to draw the sizable front deck. That house is on a very busy road, right across from a T-intersection. As my mom picks me up from school, she tells me we are taking a different way home than usual.

Mom: “Yeah, it’s a good thing [Former Classmate] moved! Someone crashed into her house and destroyed the deck.”

I call [Friend #1] when I get home and relay the information. 

Friend #1: “Okay, you know what? Fine. I thought you and [Friend #2] were just being weird about all this, but I guess I have to believe you. I’m drawing made-up houses the rest of the week.”


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