Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I think I'm in love....

I just fell across a fantastic blog that has had me LOLling all over the place. (As a sideline... is it just me who hates to see LOL everywhere? Honestly, how often when we read do we really do it, yet people (apparently) spend their time LOLling here there and everywhere.)

(Ok, maybe they're just jollier than me.)

Anyway, this guy would've had me spraying my champagne all over the keyboard and screen if I had've been drinking champagne at 8 in the morning.

Here he is. I swear, if he was in Melbourne, single and older than me, he'd be number 87 on my list of eligible-men-I've-been-on-a-first-and-usually-only-date-with. Unless he's a smoker. Or wears white trousers. Or says "Woo!" when he dances. Or dyes his hair a blatantly unnatural shade of dark that just makes him look like a pathetic wanna-be. But I don't think this guy would do any of those things. Anyone who writes this well would clearly never commit these cardinal sins. The power of humour in seduction should never be overlooked......

After reading his post on ESL teaching, it got me thinking about the times that I've had similar heartwarming situations in class. I too, have had to explain to an adolescent male from Korea who had yelled out a genial greeting to a friend what the word 'cunt' actually means and why it isn't a socially acceptable word to use in a mixed gender classroom. He had no idea of the connotations, so I had to go through why 'vagina' is one thing, and the good old C word is quite another. The whole class hung on my every word. They didn't take notes, though. Obviously I'll have to lift my game.

Then there was the time that a beautifully demure, softly spoken Chinese girl in year 11 asked me to explain what a 69 was. She'd heard the expression being bandied around and she didn't understand why it was so funny when boys in her class asked her to say that she'd like it. I began to tell her, and then imagine my horror when it became obvious that she'd never even heard what oral sex was.......

We both got an education that day. She learned a few things about human behaviour that she'd never dreamed of, and I learned just how coddled and protected some of these kids are. Still, she'd never be bullied by those infantile wagsters in year 11 again. (I just asked her to never tell her mother that I'd talked to her about this. I really didn't want to have an outraged parent up at the school, even though I was clearly fulfilling my duty of care.)

Earlier this year I had a girl in my year 11 ESL class who is a bit of a tomboy. One day she thought it might be amusing to take an unused tampon, colour it in with red texta and then throw it at the boys. I came into the room and saw it on a desk. I went ballistic. In fact, I was more than ballistic. I was operatic. I practically had the viking helmet with the horns and long plaits on by the time I'd finished. After a good five minutes of me talking about boundaries, about some things being private, about how even though feminism has broken down the barriers between men and women there are still some things that women with any degree of class don't stoop to do and there are some things that guys simply don't want to know too much about etc etc.....

I stopped for breath. Then Chris from Korea (the same guy from earlier) gingerly put up his hand.


"What?" I snapped.

"Umm.... what is a tampon used for?"

I looked at him. At first I thought he was trying to be funny, but he was honestly bewildered as to why I was going mental about this. My heart sank. It was going to be the 69 situation all over again. Then Jason from Hong Kong raised his hand.

"Yes Miss. I don't know either."

I sighed. Then I glared at the girl who'd started this.

"Ok, hands up who doesn't know what a tampon is for."

A few of the boys who'd been here for a while knew, as did most of the girls. Amazingly though, some of the girls didn't know either. This is 16, 17 and 18 year old here. So they had a quick biology lesson, which wended its way into the wonderful world of feminine protection products. A couple of the boys looked as if they'd been clubbed over the head by the time I'd finished. But by gum! They were educated that day.

It's not just these delicate topics that have to be covered. Melbourne isn't a tropical climate, (though after yesterday you'd be pardoned for not believing me .. 42C/108F), but we certainly have a climate where God's Greatest Invention (deodorant) is needed. Some of these kids come from cultures where they've never seen, heard of or used such a thing. So nearly every year there comes a time where I sit the class down and we talk about why daily showers are necessary. What deodorant is and why Aussies would rather step in dog poo than reek of B.O. Why their shirts have to be washed every day, not just every week. Why people who stink are never actually told about it.... people just avoid them.

These aren't kids coming straight from a war zone or anything. These are well-off, middle class kids who you'd think would know all of this from the cradle. But they don't. They're coming to a different society where some customs and values are the same, and some are pretty different. And if I don't talk to them openly and honestly about this stuff, then who will?

But I have to say.... they don't cover this sort of thing in Teacher's College...


Kim said...

Holy crap! Do you get combat pay for these days from hell? I have to go roll around on the floor while laughing so you can admire how much I love to LOL!!! I will never use lol, never ever ever again. Probably won't use these :) either.

I think '123 I love You' got off easier than you did. Gesh! Kids, huh?

River said...

Excuse my ignorance here, what is ESL, please?
I'm not a fan of the LOL either. An occasional LOL is fine but some bloggers have so many I gave up reading their blogs.
I'm glad you're helping to educate these kids on issues we'd assume everybody already knows, just a shame you have to be wary of the parents finding out.I suppose you could be crossing some cultural boundaries explaining the *c* word and the 69.
Loved your little blow-up over the tampon issue, have you read "To Sir With Love"? I don't remember who wrote it, but there's a similar issue in the story where the teacher blows up at his girl students and shames them.
When I was growing up, raised by my father, i didn't learn about deodorant either. When I moved to live with mum in Murray Bridge, she found a job for me and after I had been working about 6 months one of the older women took me aside and talked to me about daily bathing and deodorant. I was so ignorant and I felt ashamed that my parents hadn't taught me things that I needed to know. Even now I still learn stuff that I feel they should have taught me, but it seems all they were concerned about was getting me married off so I'd be looked after. I'm really glad there are teachers out there like you who go that extra mile and help kids who need to learn these social issues.
My older sister is retarded and when she lived in a "home" for a while they taught her that deodorant keeps you smelling fresh, now that she is on her own she uses her deodorant daily believing that she's sweet but hasn't got to the part where you wash first..........

River said...

Oh! I've got it! English Second Language. Yes?

Frogdancer said...

Absolutely! We have kids mainly from China, Korea, Russia and Israel, with sprinklings of other nationalities to keep things interesting.

I feel sorry for your sister. there's nothing worse than trying to do the right thing and just not getting it right.

Marita said...

Oh that blog is fantastic! I love your post too, do you get hazzard pay for days like those?

I remember back years ago having to answer a 18yo boys question about "How to find the right hole?". He was dating an actual real girl and starting to panic about female anatomy. That was a little surreal. Apparently he was more comfortable asking me, the doctors receptionist that kind of question, than asking the doctor.

Em said...

Wonderful, way to go - you're such a great teacher for stepping up and handling these issues head on... no matter how weird it may feel. Great blog! Em

Stomper Girl said...

The tampon scene and your reaction reminded me so strongly of reading To Sir With Love! It's fantastic that you are the sort of teacher that the kids feel safe enough to ask you these things. And that you can tackle the answering so well, too!

blueblue said...

I find myself learning things about ESL kids along the how kittens and cats are not the purry furballs of cuteness according to every culture. Yes, showing pictures of a cat can actually terrify small children. Oooops.

Had a good chuckle about your description of the boys who 'looked like they had been clubbed over the head' after your short lesson on feminine hygeine products. Well, some topics just have to be covered. I once co-taught with a teacher who was a very active member of the Breastfeeding Mother's Association...all very instructional... and the look on the eleven year old boy's faces was something I'll never forget. The word 'breasts' used multiple times in one sentence can have that effect.

I so hear you, deoderant is one topic that primary school teachers do have to give the upper school kids a heads up on..particularly when the temps hit the high 30's and the room starts to smell like month old socks. The carpet becomes organic.