To Art Is Freedom

, , , , , | Hopeless | January 15, 2018

(I am giving a high school lecture about Japanese pop culture. It involves drawing manga. At the end of the lecture, the kids are allowed to create their own art. One of the kids is the typical “bad boy”: he’s never picked up a pencil, never interacted, and he’s in trouble all the time. After the lecture, we chat a few times as I try to give him ideas and get him to work. It isn’t particularly effective. When I am next in the front of the class, the boy suddenly comes up to me.)

Boy: “If I want to draw a superhero, is that okay, too?”

Me: “Of course! You can draw whatever you want!”

Boy: “But how would I draw his face, then?”

(I walk to the whiteboard and grab a marker. I actually repeat the whole lesson I have just given about drawing a basic manga-style face.)

Boy: “I can’t draw that.”

Me: “Sure, you can. How about you try it? This is a whiteboard; if it fails, we can just erase it.”

Boy: “Nah, I can’t do that.”

Me: “Then, do what you can. What can you draw?”

Boy: “Well, this…”

(The boy draws a superhero, barely more than a stick-figure.)

Me: “Not bad. How about you try this?”

(The boy follows the tips and keeps on drawing… and drawing… and drawing. Soon, the whole whiteboard is filled. I even remove my own drawings so he has more space. The teacher sees this and walks up. I know she is very open-minded, and she nods approvingly.)

Teacher: “You know what, [Boy]? Take a picture of this and put it in your report.”

Boy: “I’m not done yet.”

Teacher: “Then by all means, go ahead! Don’t forget to put a picture of it in your report, so I can grade it.”

(The boy continues his work and after class, the boy takes a picture of it. When the kids are gone, we evaluate the lecture, and the teacher tells me more about the boy.)

Teacher: “He lives with his father, who thinks art is a waste of time. This might be the first time he has drawn since elementary school.”

(Elementary school would have been two or three years ago for this boy.)

Me: “He does seem to like to draw.”

Teacher: “And this is the first time I have seen him express himself. I don’t care that he didn’t use traditional inking techniques or even manga-style; he drew!”

(At that moment, the boy pops in from the hallway.)

Boy: “You didn’t erase it yet?”

Teacher: “Of course not! I want to enjoy this masterpiece for as long as I can!”

(It was the last lecture I gave at that school, so I don’t know what became of that boy, but this teacher really inspired me. Even now, about five years later, I use the phrase: “Focus on what you can, not what you can’t.”)

They’re Praying To Win

, , , , , | Learning | January 15, 2018

(I teach at a rough high school.)

Teacher: *looking out window* “Isn’t that beautiful? Those men outside, down on their knees praying?”

Me: “They’re shooting craps.”

One Pig Died In The Forming Of This Friendship

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | January 13, 2018

(At the time of this story, I’m in ninth grade. I’m a girl. Due to my introverted personality, two girls in my biology class have decided it would be fun to pick on me. We are doing pig dissections in class today.)

Teacher: “…and [My Name], you’ll be partnered with [Mean Girl #1].”

([Mean Girl #1] smirks at me as our teacher brings out the fetal pigs.)

Teacher: “All right, kids, pair off and I’ll give you your specimens.”

Mean Girl #1: “Ew! Like, that is so gross!”

Mean Girl #2: “I didn’t know we’d be dissecting, like, actual animals!”

Teacher: “LADIES! Yes, they are fetal pigs, and they were frozen. We went over this yesterday.”

Mean Girl #2: “That’s, like, totally gross and animal cruelty! I’m not doing it!”

Teacher: *heavy sigh* “Fine. Go to the library and tell [Other Biology Teacher] that you’re going to do the computer dissection.”

(They exit, making gagging noises.)

Teacher: “[My Name], your partner is [Popular Girl].”

(She comes over to my lab station.)

Popular Girl: “Do you mind if I do the actual dissection? I love this kind of stuff!”

Me: “Seriously? Uh… sure. I’ll take notes!”

Popular Girl: “SWEET!”

(She successfully dissects the pig, while I take notes and diagram the different parts. The group from the library comes back in as we’re finishing up.)

Me: “Hey [Mean Girl #1 & #2]! Look at this!”

(I pull some gloves on and point out the pig’s heart.)

Mean Girl #1: “OH, MY GOD! Why would you show me that?!”

Mean Girl #2: “You’re a freak!”

Popular Girl: *puts her gloves back on, picks up the heart, and waves it in their direction* “Look! It’s so squishy! Come touch it!”

(She advances toward them. They scream and run into the hallway.)

Teacher: *holding back laughter* “Okay, okay, no taunting your classmates with pig parts.”

(They never made fun of me again, and [Popular Girl] and I became friends!)

No Smooth Ways To Get Out Of The Exam

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

(I work in a local school, not as a teacher, but my position means I’m regularly helping out students in classes across multiple subjects and grade levels. I am a man. This happens one day in a grade-nine math class.)

Me: *walking past [Female Student #1], noticing she is falling a bit behind the average question students are up to* “[Female Student #1], do you know what to do?”

Female Student #1: “What? Oh, yeah, sure. Um, sir, can I ask you something?”

Me: “Sure, what can I help you with?”

Female Student #1: *pushing one of her legs out from under her desk into the walk-space* “Feel my leg.”

Me: *absolutely taken aback* ” Um… No. Why?”

Female Student #1: *actually sounding a little annoyed* “Sir, just touch it. It’s smooth.”

Me: “I’m not going to do that. How about we get back to doing question—”

(Interrupting:)

Female Student #1: “Touch my leg!”

(At this point the students classmate chimes in.)

Female Student #2: “Just feel her leg, sir. I did; it’s really smooth.”

(This has officially reached “too weird” levels.)

Me: “I believe you.”

(I just walk away to another table of students. To my amazement, I hear [Female Student #1] talking to the class teacher.)

Female Student #1: “…and is refusing to touch it. Come on, miss! You do it!”

Teacher: *giving me a “WTF is going on?” look* “Yes, it’s smooth, [Female Student #1]. Can you do your math now?”

Female Student #1: “Can you tell my Mr. [My Name] to do it, too?”

(At this point the teacher and I lost it in fits of laughter. The ridiculousness of the situation was just too much. After class we found out the student had had her legs waxed for the first time and wanted to show it off. We could not get her to understand why it was inappropriate for her to ask a grown man to feel how smooth her thighs were. Ah, the innocence of the young.)

Doctor’s Note Versus Musical Note

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 10, 2018

(I’m a senior and in the top audition-only choir at my school. It’s near Christmas, and I have come down with a nasty case of the flu. My doctor has ordered me to stay home for at least a week. My mom drops by the school with a doctor’s note, as I’m so sick I can’t drive. She runs into the office while I stay in the car. She comes back out with a frown on her face.)

Mom: “[Choir Director] wants to see you.”

(I’ve got a fever of 103, so I’m very out of it.)

Me: “Huh?”

Mom: “He wants to see you. He left word with the office that he doesn’t want a note; he wants to see you, personally. Something about missing two performances. He wants proof you’re really sick.”

Me: “But I’m sick. And I’m in my PJ’s.”

Mom: “I know, honey. I’ll walk with you.”

(I slowly shuffle to the choir room. I open the door, and am greeted by the shocked faces of my classmates. The director drops his sheet music and books it over to me.)

Director: “You’re sick. You’re actually really sick. What are you doing here?”

Mom: “You told the office you wanted to see her. Here she is.”

Director: “No, no. I didn’t—”

Mom: “Yes, you did. You told the front office that you wanted to see her, because you wanted to make sure she was really sick.”

Director: “Okay, I did say that. But so many students lie about being sick, and I just wanted to make sure that she was actually sick. I believe you. You ladies can go home.”

Mom: “We have a doctor’s note. You always tell them to bring one in if they can’t sing.”

Director: “Ah… no. That’s not necessary—”

(Normally, I’m very quiet and well-behaved, but I’ve lost all patience.)

Me: “I had to drag myself out of the car to come in here and present myself to you. YOU ARE TAKING THIS DOCTOR’S NOTE! Have I ever missed a performance in three years of singing for you?! NO! Why would I lie about missing one now?”

(He takes the note. My mom gently guides me toward the door.)

Director: “I… ah… really do hope you feel better.”

Me: *under my breath* “I hope you get all my flu germs.”

(One of my friends, who was sitting near the door, snorted. I went home. The director didn’t talk directly to me for a month.)

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