Saturday, October 25, 2008

Strike that Ass and Where's your Butt?

"John has only two balls," the teacher said, trying not to blush.

She was not discussing the strange need of the adequately equipped John to be superhumanly endowed.

That was an English teacher giving an exercise in the use of although. (Although John had only two balls, he gave them both to his brothers.)

And that teacher was me.

I can see the textbook- makers chuckling as they write such sentences for the poor teacher to handle in a class of thirty boys and girls.

Perhaps it isn't the textbook makers who are the villains.

Language has changed so much that unless you are alert, your words may sound suspicious. The fall of a word from innocent to obscene gives rise to unintended vulgarity and giggles in the class. A teacher has to step cautiously around formerly clean words like gay, come, bush, hole, pussy, D... ... you know. Besides the media, the songs and writing to which the adoloscents are exposed promote the new, not-so-clean meaning rather than the original.

Teachers of old had to only mind their language. Now even gestures convey multiple meanings.When I taught my daughter in class twelve, one day she came home embarassed and told me not to show my finger at the class. You see, I'd had this habit of counting out points on my fingers. I never noticed that a finger stayed up as I waxed eloquent on a particular point!

Every generation of students has a teacher who organises 'kiss contests'. But the GK teacher in my staffroom created an 'earthcake' when he threatened to screw the students who didn't perform well in the 'kiss'. Of course, what he meant was that he would put pressure on them to do well.

Sometimes you realise, too late, how your instructions sounded in class. After assigning tasks, I would ask my students to 'do it silently' or 'do it together' or worse, 'do it with your partner'.

The worst was yet to come as I smiled wisely and advised, "Keep doing it till you get it right." And then there were snorts that just couldn't be suppressed. That's when I wanted the earth to split open and swallow me up.

I thought I'd learnt never to put my foot in my mouth ever again.

But yesterday I blanched to hear myself say to the eleventh standard student -
" Strike that 'as' and where's your 'but'?"

12 comments:

atomicgitten said...

Hee hee hee...

It's ok, ma'am. At this age,the imps you call students will find hidden meanings even in the most straight-laced of language (Remember 'Grandma's chicken salad'?)The best thing to do is plough along regardless of the two feet planted firmly in your mouth. Just do it! (...er...)

crazyBugga said...

ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

hilarious post! here's hopin most of ur students are from remote villages, cos all i can say is tat : if u had been a teacher at my school, u wud be the most popular one [:)]

Materialmom said...

Hey Atomica
(Sigh)Yes, that's what I keep doing- ploughing along with my mouth full. Now did that sound bad?
And what's the Grandma's chicken salad?

Thanks Crazybugga.
I already am. But now I know why.

ThalassicReverie said...

Hmm.
If you being the teacher find yourself blanching , imagine being a student...
Who used the word 'screw' as often as needed to give vent to exasperation...
(eg. err...now I blush even to write it out.Shhh!)
Only to be told by a friend ( who was told by a certain popular Chemistry teacher ) the implication of that harmless little helpful word....

:(

Materialmom said...

Yes, students use it often without realising. Just like they say 'backside' for 'behind'. :)

Jan said...

Hmm... According to the date this is a recent post but I could've sworn I read this before and even commented! Apparently not...

What can I say but hilarious?! :D I remember my physics teacher in class 10 talking about those electricity poles as "erections"--my friend and I had to smother chuckles but no one else seemed to get it, thank god!

Of course, in recent times, in my semantics class, we were talking about meanings of words and how they refer to the truth conditions in the real world when my prof picked an example such as "He is dancing." and asked us how we would verify the truth of this. This, of course, was innocent enough. But right above this example was an earlier sentence we had discussed "He is a boy." Now how would you verify that? Needless to say we had to duck under tables to hide our laughter.

Hmm. sorry, as usual, I've gone on for too long.

Soooper post, materialmom!

Materialmom said...

Thankyou
You're right.This was written long back. but then I got tired of seeing the previous post and didn't feel like writing something new.So I dredged this up from the archives.
Ha ha ha What a punny Phy teacher!
Im sure that prof is kicking himself for that blunder.

Krrish Nanda said...

nice one...never expected this from teachers.

Materialmom said...

Nanda
Delighted to see you here. This post actually had more ...er... 'objectionable' matter before i edited it.
I guess my grade as a teacher will plummet to 'E' :(
Actually the post is about etymology (a word scholarly enough for a 'teacher').
Btw WHY ARE YOU ON THE NET DURING EXAMS???? *frown, glare*

atomicgitten said...

Enough cheating. Let's have a NEW post!

Deliberately Thoughtless said...

Nice post... well written.. Heard you are a 'Vimalite'.. Me too one..

Materialmom said...

Thank you.
Yes, I am and Iam so excited. I've searched on orkut for familiar faces from Vimala, only to be disappointed. You are perhaps v much my junior, but Iam really glad to meet you. :)