19 March 2017

Stuff Happens, Some is Interesting -- I Write About it Because That's What I Do

How’m I doing? Sure why not, let’s start with that. Earlier today I ran nine miles so I feel pretty good. But subsequent to that I made what I thought was a funny comment to the wife but she was offended by it, got angry and I sunk into depression. It happens just like that. A small upset will take me from the top of the world to the bottom of the chasm. Sometimes nothing is required, I’ll just be sitting in my favorite chair feeling wonderful and in an instant I’m overcome with sorrow. No warning either. Earlier today I watched my favorite English soccer team suffer an ignominious defeat. Bummer. That was before my run. The run produced endorphins aplenty and the consequent runner’s high. After the run I watched my second favorite English soccer team win. It helped a little. Then came the dumb remark. So I was depressed and useless to the world. It’s difficult to be of any value to yourself or others during depression unless you’re working in which case you go on automatic pilot and are your usual self. I managed to pop a DVD that I got from Netflix into my computer. Fifteen minutes in I realized I wasn’t going to like the movie so I cut my losses and ejected it. Then I selected a movie from my extensive DVD collection (somewhere around 240 films) knowing that as one of my favorites I would enjoy it. The film in question was The Big Lebowski and I did indeed enjoy it.  I like The Dude his madcap adventures and wacky friends, lovers and opponents. The Coens directed the film and they're among my favorite directors. Right now the wife is out having dinner with an old friend (she’s no longer miffed with me, in case you were wondering) so finding myself home alone and hungry I ordered a pizza. As I write these very words that you are reading (I flatter myself that anyone will ever read this) I await the arrival of said pizza. Because it is for me and me alone I got to order any toppings I wanted and so it will come with anchovies, pineapple and green peppers. A Caesar salad will accompany said pizza. Yum. Thus ends this overly long paragraph.

Here begins what promises to be a much shorter paragraph. Yesterday during a teacher meeting we were informed of this that and the other thing and discussed one or two matters. There was nothing earth shattering being discussed, that’s the way of such things. A half an hour in I had to excuse myself to answer Mother Nature’s call. When I returned a teacher was discussing her problems with bored students and those (often, of course, bored) who can’t stay off their cell phone. I saw the boss glance over at me a couple of times and feared she’d call on me to advise in this matter. However I managed to keep my yap shut as other teachers commiserated and offered feeble suggestions and shared similar tragedies.Why my reluctance to throw in the proverbial two cents? I might have been forced — when asked what I do about bored students — to reply that I do not have bored students. Or at least none who are bored for more than a few seconds. How arrogant would that have sounded? Very, I’m sure. But the truth is I don’t have bored students. My only advice to teachers whose students are bored is to make your lessons more interesting. Be a more interesting person. It is not the fault of the student if she or he is bored. That’s on you the teacher, pal. As for cell phones, this is in large part a byproduct of boredom. But even in the best of classes students are constantly nagged by the feeling that their phone requires their immediate attention. Goodness knows what texts have been missed, or email or Facebook posts, or news or sports scores or Instagrams or tweets. The phone is irresistible because there is always something new on it. New, new, new. Yes I’ve gone off topic and am in danger of making this paragraph as long as the last when I’d promised not to. Simple enough. I stop it here.

This paragraph will be a more manageable length. So you may be wondering what I do about cell phones in class. Simple. I bash the offender over the head with a crowbar. Lesson learned. No but seriously folks. First of all repeat offenders lose their attendance for that class -- that rarely happens. Usually I stop teaching and stare at the person’s phone until they see fit to put it away. Only rarely do I have to “get tough.” I hasten to add that “getting tough” with ESL students from around the world is a piece of cake for someone such as myself who taught middle school for two decades.

I recently heard the same teacher who was whining about bored students talk to a colleague about how well a class had gone and how engaged everyone had been. She then spoke of how disappointed they’d all be the next day when the focus was entirely on grammar. She imagined having to tell them that they would have to take their medicine (I paraphrased, by the way, she said nothing of medicine, but it was the same idea). I was aghast. Imagine a teacher setting aside an entire class to grammar (perfectly okay — indeed encouraged — in a grammar elective class) and conceding that an entire class period was libel to be a big snooze. What an awful thing to do to students. Every class should cover several different skills and should be divided accordingly. Also, every class should have at least a modicum of fun. Learning should never be painful (unless you’re studying to be a masochist) learning should be a pleasurable experience. You can stuff in one helluva lot of knowledge and expertise and understanding while having a right jolly good time in the bargain. In fact people are better learners when they’re happy.

There are other things on my mind tonight, like a great many people I’m — shall we say —

That’s where I stopped writing on Saturday. Mid sentence. I don’t recall what interrupted me, maybe a meteor shower. We pick up this post on Sunday AM. You will note that some of the following is fictional — or is it?

Subsequent to the writings of last night I got into a knife fight with a passerby. Successful in this venture and intent on a peaceful blood-free evening, I watched an episode of he The Simpsons and ate my pizza. Eventually my wife returned from her dinner with old friend and we engaged in conversation. This was followed by a movie, more chatting and then off to bed. However the journey from living room to bedroom was interrupted by a beam of light radiating from the sky and shining through our window. I went outside to find that an alien spacecraft had landed  in front of our abode. One member of the crew alighted from the flying saucer and engaged me in conversation. Her first question was about the NCAA basketball tournament. I gave as much of an update as I could from memory then checked the other scores on my iPhone. She lamented that their internet was a bit spotty and the ship’s tech guy was at this moment working on it. The alien, who’s Earth name was Nancy, said that her home planet was several million light years away and their journey took six months. It would have been shorter but they stopped a few places to eat and take bathroom breaks and buy souvenirs. Eventually our conversation got around to the current political state of the world. I invited Nancy into the house and the wife and I got out our computers and showed her some clips of Donald Trump speaking and read her some of his tweets. Once fully apprised of the leader of the free world Nancy thanked us and said: “with this man being in charge I think it best we hightail it out of here.” Before departing she took a selfie with us. By the way Nancy bore a striking resemblance to a young Diane Keaton.

Because of the excitement of the evening it was difficult to get to sleep straightaway so I counted the number of alien encounters I’ve had. I remember getting to 30. I slept well. This morning I breakfasted on cereal, keifer and a banana along with English Breakfast tea. After a thorough scouring of the internet, the better half and I went grocery shopping. We have since returned home and I have written some of the words which you are no doubt not reading as you’ve never heard of me or my blog and wouldn’t read it if you had.

Now then, can you guess which parts of today’s addition to the blog post are fictional? Feel free to submit your guess in the comments section. Winners will receive an all expense round trip vacation to Syria. No foolin’.

No comments: