Some Americans Are Friendlier Than Others

, , | Learning | August 20, 2017

(One of my students takes my lessons just so his English skills don’t deteriorate, so we mostly just tend to chat during the time. He lived in the US for several years, so his skill level is quite high, but occasionally some cultural aspects still slip by.)

Student: “I just think it’s so much more stiff and formal in Japan. I mean, Americans are just so friendly!”

Me: “Well, I think that depends on the person, but overall I probably agree with you.”

Student: “Everyone’s so open and welcoming! There are even ads on TV telling you to call them if it’s late at night and you want to chat to someone!”

(He didn’t realize those were phone sex lines.)

You’re A 100% Chance Of Being An Idiot

, , , , | Learning | August 14, 2017

(I am a teacher providing a tour for parents of new students in the next year. There are two in the group who are very vocal. The atmosphere is pretty casual, and parents are free to ask questions whenever they like.)

Parent #1: “Excuse me? How often is there a nurse in the school?”

Me: “We have several first aiders who are present at all times, so immediate care can be given. As for the nurse, we have two who tend to switch. Thursday are usually their days off. Generally we have both on hand with tasks needing more involvement, like shots and and lice checks.”

Parent #2: “Shots as in vaccines? Oh, no, no, no. My son won’t be doing those. It’s so dangerous.”

Parent #1: “Yes. How could people be so careless! Did you know that the MMR vaccine has a 100% chance of causing autism?! I refuse to left my son be a r****d!”

Me: “I guess I’m a r****d, then.”

(Neither parents looked too happy with my retort, and one of them pulled their student out of the school. The other, however, attended school and gladly had his vaccinations. Apparently there was some words exchanged between his mother and father, to which I assume the father won.)

The Pricey Alternatives Can Take A Hike

, , , | Learning | August 11, 2017

(My school’s organizing a Duke Of Edinburgh expedition. Basically, it’s a three day hike, which gains you a certificate you can put on your CV. The teacher running it is a regular hiker. A few weeks beforehand he gives us a list of equipment to bring with us. He recommends a lot of specialized equipment, which together would cost me about £300. Not having that kind of money, I find cheaper alternatives for about £50. He inspects our equipment before we go.)

Teacher: *picks up a torch I got from a pound shop* “That’s not good enough.”

Me: “I tested it in the park. Lights up everything around.”

Teacher: “This only works for a few metres.” *shows his own* “Why haven’t you got something like this?”

Me: “It’s £40.”

Teacher: “But it can spotlight something two miles away.”

Me: “What are you planning to spotlight two miles away? This isn’t a military expedition; it’s a walk in the woods.”

Teacher: “I know best. And what’s this?” *picks up one of the plastic bottles I brought with me* “The first time you drop this on a rock, It’ll split open.”

Me: “Like that rock there?”

(I throw the bottle as hard as I can at the rock. It bounces harmlessly off.)

Teacher: “Who’s the expert here? I’m telling you it will break.”

Me: “Let’s do another test, then.” *I throw it at a pointier rock; same result* “You were saying?”

Teacher: “Well, if you’re not going to listen, we won’t help you when it breaks.”

Composing Her Own Demise

, , , | Learning | August 10, 2017

(My music teacher has been getting lower grades than expected from her upper year students. It has triggered an inspection to see if there is an underlying cause. Because of this, she has become quite authoritarian with our freedoms, telling us off if we play anything that is not to her tastes, or show independent thought. I have been playing some of my favourite compositions in one lesson when she comes down hard on me, screaming that she will expel me from school if I don’t play the songs she wants. Being eleven at the time, I didn’t realise this isn’t a decision she can make, and fearfully submit to her demands. She selects a piece for us to all practice and demonstrate on the day of inspection.)

Inspector: *after the third pupil plays* “Is this really all you have taught your children? One composition?”

Teacher: “No! They have a lot of freedom. Even more modern and less conventional. They can play what they like! Right, kids?”

(None of us react, and she starts glaring at us one by one.)

Inspector: “It seems like you have quite a tight hold on them.”

(He asks a few questions and then asks another pupil to play.)

Inspector: “Again! Really, Mrs. [Teacher]. I’m starting to understand where this downward trend is coming from. You’ve got them wound so tightly. They need freedom! Stimulation!”

Teacher: “No, they do have freedom. How about [My Name]? He loves playing his own compositions!”

Inspector: “You’re violin? Then, please. Play something you enjoy; something you LOVE to play.”

(I don’t really understand at the time, so I just go with what the teacher selected. I look up at her to see if she is pleased, but she looks like she is about to kill me. I tense up and after only a few seconds the inspector asks me to stop. I’m crying at this point.)

Inspector: “Mrs. [Teacher], this is absolutely unacceptable. This poor boy can barely breathe, stifled in his creativity. It looks close to torture! I think we are done here.”

(He walked out. Our teacher went pale, and I thought she was going to explode, but she dismissed us early and retired to her office. That was the last I saw of her, and I’m only learning and realising now that she was dismissed for incompetence. I actually felt really guilty, knowing what hand I had to play in her dismissal. Other than that short time with the inspection, I didn’t have a single problem with her.)

The Lunch Bunch

, , , , | Learning | August 10, 2017

(Every day, we’re called to lunch in groups, then left to wait in a cramped, drafty corridor until a teacher comes up to tell us they’re ready. Or often, just left there for ages for trivial reasons…)

Worker: “Well, the thing is, they’re ready now. But I’m not the one who’s been scheduled to send you down today. As soon as we work out who it is, we can send them up.”

(She disappears for a long time. We’re getting restless and hungry.)

Worker: “Okay, we’ve worked out who’s supposed to do it, but we’re not sure where she is. We’ll all just have to wait a while longer.”

Me: “If you’re ready, can’t we just—”

Worker: “No!”

(She leaves and my friend stands on a bench.)

Friend: “Right! On the count of three, we all just go down there! One, two three!”

(The whole crowd rushes through the doors as one. Since they couldn’t punish all of us, there was nothing they could do and had to get on with serving us.)

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