Just some assorted things that happened during one week at the Ghetto School.
I was in a ninensei class which saw a rare appearance of Larry from The Three Stooges. Seriously, it’s been so long since she’s actually been inside of a classroom, I was starting to think she was like the School Jester, or a really noisy janitor or something. Anything but a student. They managed to get her into class at least, but she spent her time playing around on her wildly decorated cell phone.
The kids were supposed to break off into pairs and recite some dialogue from the textbook. Usually they have to memorize it, but this time they only had to do a reading of it. Since Larry was actually in class this time, they paired her with a girl to do the recitation. They aren’t exactly friends, but they get along well enough, so in order not to screw the girl over, Larry decides she’ll do enough to properly be a recitation partner.
I went over there after a short practice time, and the two girls did their recitation except Larry did hers without even reading the paper. And it was right! I was amazed – granted, it wasn’t a whole lot of English, but I think she barely glanced at the paper. Even as I’d come over to check it, she briefly paused on her cell phone to spit out the English, then went back to downloading melodies.
I was surprised by this, to say the least. I usually fail to acknowledge the Stooges existence (which drives them completely nuts) but since she did a good job, I tried to encourage her. I am, after all, somewhat of a teacher.
Me: Hey, that was a good job! See, you can do it! Why don’t you try to come to English class more often?
I don’t know why I didn’t see that coming. I must be getting old.
Come to think of it, it’s been a weird week at the Ghetto School. It’s the week after final exams. I think I mentioned before, school continues on for a good 2-3 weeks after finals until the end of the term. During that time, teachers actually try to hold real classes, but the kids are all burned out from their tests, AND they know that they stuff that’s being covered, they won’t be tested on. Yeah, I wouldn’t pay attention either. Even the best, well-behaved classes become hyperactive during this time. But the Ghetto School has been strangely low-key this week. Even the bastards are sitting in their seats. They’re reading manga, but it’s better than them doing cartwheels out in the hallway (maybe you think I’m kidding about that one). I’m kind of worried, what the hell is going on? Have I stepped into some sort of Bizarro Ghetto School? Is there a Bizarro School of Peace, where Mousey is a good kid and Ultimate Sweetness is like the biggest slut? Is there a Bizarro version of me? What would that be like? The complete opposite of me — that would be a small white woman who actually liked being touched inappropriately by little kids. Holy shit, Michael Jackson is the Bizarro version of me! Or am I the Bizarro version of Michael Jackson? Mommy, I’m scared. Hold me.
I don’t know why, but I woke up one morning and my left eye was pretty irritated. It was all red and slightly swollen. I went to work. What’s the alternative, go to a Japanese doctor who’ll tell me I need to take some suppositories to get the swelling to go down? Or that the eye is a lost cause and here’s my new wooden one? Fuck that, I’m going to work.
The irritation and swelling didn’t really subside though, and I spent most of the day doing my best Sagat from Street Fighter impersonation (for those of you who are Street Fighter impaired, it means I had one eye closed most of the time). This went, for the most part, unnoticed. I love how completely un-observant Japanese people are. Anyway, I was in a ninensei class, when someone finally noticed I was only doing class with one open eye. The worst ninensei boy. The boy who wrote the “I Can Only Love You For a Day” break-up letter and helped to pioneer the Waist-Shake movement.
He points it out in the middle of class, and I say that yes, my eye hurts so I have it closed at the moment. “He’s Kakashi-sensei!” The boy blurts out. “He’s got a Sharingan in there! He must have used it too much, so now he has to rest it.”
This boy is referring to some ninja anime called Naruto.
Class went on, but now the boy is completely enthralled by me. It’s a good day if we can get him to stop punching people for 10 minutes, but this time he was hanging off my every word, waiting to see if I’d pop out a ninja-eye that could sense his power-level, or send him to a space/time void where I could kancho him limitlessly for 24 straight hours while only 3 seconds passed in the real world. He even quieted the other kids who were starting to get noisy. “Hey, shut up! I’m trying to listen to Kakashi-sensei!” He’d say.
Well, now I know that if I want to get the bad kids to settle down, all I need to do is show up to school looking like a Konoha Ninja. Yeah, I think I’m just gonna let them stay stupid, thanks.
Number of times Ms. Americanized swore during a 2-hr block – 16.
“Fuck, the goddamned chime” she says as the bell rings for class to start. “Shit, I forgot the handouts!” she says as we get to class. “Fucking hell!” she exclaims as she’s writing and the chalk breaks in her hands. Meanwhile, I think the kids are taking notes on her swears, but this was the day I was (apparently) concealing my Sharingan in my left eye, so I couldn’t see that well.
In this class, a ninensei’s class, we’d given the kids a copy of the English portion of the entrance exams for public high school that the sannensei recently took. Sort of a taste of things to come/let’s start freaking you out good and early kind of thing. At the end of the class, I took a look at the test – it was pretty ridiculous. There were some things that I couldn’t translate effectively into Japanese, and I’ve got 3 years of study and 3 years of immersion on these kids. I pointed this out to Ms. Americanized. “Where in New Horizon (out textbook) do they learn how to do this?” I asked. “They don’t.” She says flatly. “New fucking Horizon.”
When we got back to the teachers room, I told Ms. Americanized I’d heard her swear more today than I’d heard all week. And I have satellite TV now. “I don’t usually swear, at least this much.” She says. “It’s this school. This school makes me swear.” That’s actually very believable. I’d like to think my temper has a long fuse (I’m a Californian and we don’t get worked up about much, except road rage) but there are times when I want to give the nearest bastard an Ultimate Warrior-dropkick through a window. They are that bad.
Finally, Ms. Americanized turns to me and says “Whoever replaces you in August, please don’t tell him or her that I’m an English teacher who swears so much.”
Somehow, I think if that person doesn’t already know, they’re going to find out pretty quickly.