I teach English to kids. It’s gloriously fun. You’re handed a kid who is terrified of his pen and you try to insert some education. Sometimes, all you get at the end is a less incompetent linguist. Which is just fine, by the way. Other times, though, you get profusions of wildly imaginative stories, sheaves of painstakingly rhymed poetry, and someone who actually understands what a direct object is. It’s a mixed bag.
And, of course, once a year on Teachers’ Day, you get a slightly damp hand-drawn card that says World’s Best Teacher.
I highly recommend teaching English if you’re the sort of person who can face over forty innocent, energetic – energetic! – souls and quell their shenanigans with the twitch of an eyebrow. If you lack the eyebrow skills, I highly do not recommend teaching English. Or teaching anything, for that matter. Trust me.
Sometimes, especially while teaching writing, there is a glitch in the matrix. The lesson goes a tad awry. Misses the mark just a bit. The English equivalent of 2+2=22 happens.
I’ve been collecting samples of these writing glitches for a few years now. While they’re ultimately my fault (I am the teacher, after all), I can’t deny I find them hilarious.
For example, after a lesson about creating characters who use their common sense in tough situations, I got this bit about Sam. Sam’s stoicism is probably unparalleled in all of literary history.
“Hmm,” thought Sam, “I have been stung by one million wasps. I think it is time to call for help.”
So Sam called for help and everyone praised him for using his common sense.
Cool under pressure, that Sam.
There was also a lesson about writing fables – stories, often featuring animals, that illustrate a moral lesson.
After that incident, Jeremy learned never to kill animals because animals are human beings too and how would you like it if someone kills your animals.
And Billy the Pig learned that it is wrong to tell lies because every time you tell lies, Timothy the Tiger will come and eat your body parts.
If having random appendages chewed off won’t encourage you to stay on the righteous path, I don’t know what will.
There was also a lesson about beginning your story with a flashback.
“Your money or your life!” warned the old lady, holding the dagger so close to my neck that I could feel the blade scraping my neck. This horrible, fearsome memory haunted me profusely as I ate my banana.
And the one about describing your character’s emotions.
Ali was so afraid that his skin turned as pale as a ghost, he broke into a cold sweat and his heart was in his mouth. His spine turned to jelly, his knees quivered, his hands were shaking, and he was scared stiff.
In case that left any room for doubt as to Ali’s current mental state, it was followed by this:
Ali gasped frantically, “I am scared to death right now!” But he didn’t really die because that’s just a way of saying that he was frightened. Ali was quite frightened.
One last one. I can’t remember what I was trying to teach the kids here, but whatever it was, it led to some very dramatic writing.
The robber dashed away with the necklace like a shot! The police arrived at the speed of light! “He went that way!” exclaimed the shopkeeper. The police ran after the robber as fast as lightning! In the blink of an eye, the police caught the thief! In two shakes of a lamb’s tail, they put him in the electric chair! Then he learned that crime does not pay.
Probably the speediest execution of justice ever.
Boy, I love teaching English.