Thursday, June 28, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Well, Timmy wasn't his real name, but from the first day of class, that's how I thought of him, because he made me think of an older version of the little boy in the old Lassie TV series.
This was back in the mid-1990s, when the grunge movement was taking its toll on the American appearance, yet Timmy came to class every day smiling and clean-looking, with neatly trimmed red hair and, to top it all off, a sprinkling of freckles. He even sat up straight. The plaid shirts and jeans only added to his charm, as well as to his resemblance to the 1960s TV character.
(A little background for those of you who don't remember the show: Lassie was a beautiful and very smart collie owned by a little boy named Timmy, who lived with his mother and grandfather on a farm. In many episodes, Timmy got into some sort of scrape, and had to send Lassie for help. Lassie would run off to Mom or Grandpa or whoever was needed, and bark, tug at clothes, etc., until the person would say something to the effect of, “What is it, Lassie? Do you want me to follow you? Is Timmy in trouble?” I don't know if the line was ever actually used in the series, but at some point the line, “What is it, Lassie? Did Timmy fall down a well?” became well known among my generation.)
I managed not to ever call him Timmy out loud, although there were a few near misses. This is one of the dangers of allowing oneself to have mental nicknames for one's students.
And then one day Timmy was absent. The next morning he came up to my desk and said, “Ma'am, I'm sorry I was absent yesterday. I --” Before he could continue, my mind finished his sentence with, “-- fell down a well.”
It's hard to turn an unstoppable laugh into a creditable cough, but I think I managed pretty well. After a moment to regain my composure, I listened to the actual excuse, which had to do with setting his alarm wrong after a power outage.
As if this weren't sufficient proof of my teacherly restraint, the Universe gave me a further test when this student's real-life identical twin brother was in my class. At least this one wore sweatshirts and slouched.
Friday, June 8, 2012
"I think everything was right for this course. And the teacher was too good for us."
(At least, I hope it was the usual error and not a self-esteem issue.)
"A person I have known well since I born. She is very nice perso. She is the best cooker in the wrold. I have so many memoris with her. She is the most beautyful in the Univers. That is the person that I have known well."
"For me he is the jack all knives of show business."
"I apreciate him too because he is from the back side on the track..."
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Several years ago one such student admired an interesting eraser that another student had. It was like a mechanical pencil, except that it had a long eraser in it instead of lead. The conversation went something like this:
Bijal: Where did you get that?
Roza: At the pharmacy.
Bijal: I will go to the pharmacy and get this type of rubber.
Me: (feeling the need to interject) Eraser, Bijal. In the U.S. it's called an eraser.
Bijal: Yes, yes. We call it a rubber. I will ask in the pharmacy for this type of rubber.
Me: (sighing) Maybe you should come out in the hall with me a second, Bijal.
Now, Bijal normally had great big eyes, but when I explained the most likely outcome of asking for a rubber in a pharmacy, her eyes became the size of dinner plates. As we walked back in the room, she repeated several times, “Eraser. Eraser. Eraser. Eraser?”
“Eraser. Eraser. Eraser...”
Monday, April 9, 2012
No. NO. NO!!
I understand how challenging it must be to come up with catchy titles for textbooks. I also think it’s a very bad idea to confuse students at this level with made-up words that the general population would consider incomprehensible. It does the students no favors.
From a student essay:
“There is a big difference between childhood and adultery.”
One of the questions on the revised form was, “Was your teacher fair?”
Well, that had to be changed after we discovered that some of the students thought that “fair” meant “light in color”.
Next we tried, “Did your teacher treat all the students fairly?”
We’ve now learned that (sigh) we’re going to have to change that as well, as we’re getting too many negative responses, and have finally discovered that the students are looking up “fair” and going with the definition of “not very good”. Just too many possible meanings for one word!
Our next instructor meeting is Thursday. I’m sure if the weather’s fair and we get a fair number of instructors who come to the meeting rather than going to the fair, we’ll have a fair chance of coming up with something that’s ... better.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
I was recently on a search committee for a new faculty member in another department. He was attempting to show his use of teaching technology as he said he frequently engaged in “asynchronous CMC” with the students. Well, I wasn’t about to admit in front of my peers that there was some possibly common term I wasn’t aware of, so I was very comforted when one of the faculty members (who is highly tech-savvy) asked, “What’s asynchronous CMC?”
“It’s asynchronous computer-mediated communication,” he replied.
“You mean e-mail?”
I get a number of phone messages for the instructors, some of which I can respond to with no problem. Then there are others.
“This is Mohamed. Call me back.” (He might not be aware that we have an amazing number of people named Mohamed, and not leaving a number doesn’t narrow down the possible field.)
“This is Ahmed. Tell my teacher I can’t be there today.” (Again, no number, and when I mentioned the call in an instructor meeting, one of the teachers said that she had three Ahmeds in just one of her sections.)
Friday, February 24, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
“African and Meddle East countries”
“Since the beginning of time, religions around the world have taught us that God created woman from man's odds.”
“...in some rural areas, we see the majority of women stacked in their house cooking and taking care of their families.”
“The farmers barely produce enough to feed their families using the hoe and cuttlass.”
(Arrgh, mateys, we have to plow the South 40.)
“All kinds of traditional testy foods are found and served in the country.”