You Could Also Blame The Parents

, , , , , | Learning | May 24, 2020

Twenty sixth-grade students from a specialized interest school — in this case, aquaculture — are touring the library in general and the children’s area in particular.  

Most of the kids are well-behaved, but there are four boys who just don’t want to follow the rules. My colleagues and I are not supposed to chastise kids if they are with their (theoretically) responsible adults. We try to guide them back into the activities but they are determined to jump on tables, run up walls, and climb up on the backs of chairs to get at our windows.

I have had it. After I catch one of them trying to pull apart a large stuffed animal that is our mascot, I round the four of them up and march them into the little kids’ room.

“You will sit there, mouths closed, until your bus comes. And if I see you move again, I will get your names from your teachers and you will be banned.”

This is a pretty empty threat as I am a lowly junior librarian, but even my boss doesn’t say anything because she is sick of them, too. They aren’t perfect, but at least they aren’t destroying public property anymore and they aren’t putting any more sneaker treads on the walls.  

It is their teacher who ultimately gets my goat, though.

She comes over with a big smile.

Thank you for talking to them,” she says. “I was getting annoyed with them, too, but it wasn’t my place to say anything.”

I stare at her in disbelief, and then my boss says, “Why not?

“Oh,” says the teacher, “it’s your library, not mine. It’s not my place to discipline them in your space.”

“It might be our space,” says my boss, “but they are your students and your responsibility.”

The teacher just waltzes off with another group of barely-behaved children.

It was a long time before my boss ever allowed that school back for tours and programs.

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Presenting A Confusing Climate

, , , , | Learning | May 21, 2020

During my junior year of high school, my school decided to invite a scientist of some sort that studied the effects of climate change to come to talk to all of us. Sounds cool, right? That’s what we all thought, especially since they took up an entire class period’s worth of time for it, but we were all so wrong. This presentation went wrong on so many levels.

For starters, I’m not sure where the presenter was from, but he had a very thick accent and monotone voice and that, combined with the echoey-ness of the gym my whole school was crammed into, meant that we could barely make out a third of what he was saying.

Second, of the words we could understand, a lot of it was jargon that was quite a bit above most of our high-school brains and he had complete paragraphs on his slides you could barely read from a distance that also used a lot of the same jargon.

The most interesting part of the presentation was when the guy’s slides stopped working and IT had to come out to troubleshoot.

The next day, the administration apologized to us and praised us for being so good throughout the assembly. I’m still honestly not sure if they realized half of us fell asleep during it, which is why we were so “good.”

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Smoking Out The Bad Instructors

, , , | Learning | May 21, 2020

I’m in driver’s ed, and my instructor is severely addicted to cigarettes. The practical portion of the course consists of hour-long driving sessions with two students and the instructor, each student driving for a half-hour.

The instructor can’t make it the full hour without a cigarette. Since he’s not allowed to smoke in the company vehicle, he insists on taking a ten-minute break when switching drivers. He’ll have us pull into a fast food place to practice parking and then tell us to go buy a snack if we want while he smokes outside. All the students are happy with this arrangement because we get the chance to buy a milkshake, but it’s not technically allowed under company rules.

One thing that the instructor teaches us that isn’t in any of the course materials is that we always have to keep the driver’s window cracked open, no matter what. He claims that it’s for safety reasons, but we all suspect it’s because he always has a cigarette in his own car and doesn’t want to marinate in the smoke.

I have a driving session one day when the weather is bad, but not bad enough to cancel. It’s 45°F (7°C) and absolutely pouring, with the rain sometimes blowing sideways. I have just gotten into the backseat, with the other student in the driver’s seat. The instructor has her go through all the normal pre-driving stuff, and then this happens.

Instructor: “All right, the only thing you’ve forgotten is to crack open the window. Go ahead and do that now.”

Student: “But it’s raining!”

Instructor: “So? I told you, it’s dangerous to drive with all the windows closed.”

Student: “I’ve literally never heard that from anyone else, ever. Everyone I know drives with all the windows closed, unless it’s a nice day, maybe.”

Instructor: “Then they’re doing it wrong! See, if you have all the windows closed and your tailpipe gets blocked, exhaust will fill the car. I knew some boys who had that happen way back when. They backed too far into a parking spot, not realizing they had the tailpipe flush against the wall, and sat in the idling car for a while. And guess what? They all died!

Student: “Um… I’m sorry to hear that, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen right now. We’re going to be driving, not idling.”

Instructor: “You have to get in the habit of being prepared! If those boys made sure to always have a window open, they’d still be alive today! Now put the window down!”

Student: “Could it at least be the one no one’s sitting next to?”

Instructor: “No, it has to be yours so you’re always aware it’s open.”

She certainly was aware it was open the whole time, since she got rained on almost constantly. And then, after we switched drivers, I went through the same thing. We were both pretty miserable by the time the lesson was over. 

Our parents weren’t exactly pleased to find their children soaking wet on one side only and shivering when they came to pick us up. On the way home, I ranted a bit to my mom about the window thing and blamed it all on the instructor’s cigarette addiction. I mentioned in passing the ten-minute cigarette break he was taking in the middle of every lesson, which my mom was very interested in.

At the next lesson, I found out that the instructor had been fired after both my mom and the other student’s mom called to complain about the breaks and him letting us get soaked and freezing because of his own weird belief that the company did not share. The new instructor was confused when several students opened the window a crack even though it was a cold day.

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“Answer Your Cat’s Questions” Day Isn’t Until January 22!

, , , , , , , , | Learning | May 20, 2020

Like many professors during the current health crisis, I am teaching my class online from home. I have online office hours every day, and I tend to lock myself in my home office so I can have peace and quiet when I’m talking with my students.

This morning I am holding office hours with three of my students, answering questions about a lecture topic. After ten minutes of back and forth, there seems to be general agreement among the students, but I want to make sure.

Me: “How does everyone feel about that? Any more questions?”

There was a moment of silence followed by a very loud “MEOW.”

My students heard it and started laughing from three different time zones. They got it, but apparently, the cat had gotten stuck in the office and she definitely had a question.

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Not Always Legal (Aid Clinic)

, , , , , , | Legal | May 19, 2020

The law school at my university offers a “legal aid clinic,” where students can get free legal advice. This story does not take place there. It takes place in the philosophy department with a philosophy professor.

Professor: *Answering phone* “Hello, this is [Professor].”

Long pause.

Professor: “Oh, you must want the legal aid clinic. Let me find you their number.”

Longer pause.

Professor: “So, you want to know if there’s an ethical argument here before you consider a legal one?”

Very long pause.

Professor: “No. It’s not ethical to sue your mother because she gave your dog an unoriginal name.”

He hangs up and turns to a colleague.

Professor: “How do I make this an unlisted number?”

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