Thursday, January 7, 2010

Allow me to Present...

Before my first class this morning, one of my students came up to me and said, "Can I fire a gun during my presentation? It doesn't have bullets." My students are sometimes not very good at conveying nuance, however, so the second sentence sounded apologetic rather than comforting, and I initially thought that he was asking if he would be allowed to use his gun despite the fact that it didn't have bullets in it.

Even after I figured out what he was asking, I was surprised that he felt the need to add the second half. It seems like it should be implied that if you're firing a gun during an oral presentation in English class, it shouldn't be loaded. (Teach for America employees: your mileage may vary.) Anyway, this marks the third group of the week that has asked to use a firearm in the performance of their 3 - 5 minute skit. I feel like I'm missing an opportunity to teach a life lesson about nonviolence somewhere in there. Never mind, the feeling has passed.

Several groups have been performing skits based on the following scenario: "Two students are involved in a romantic relationship. A teacher is suspicious." Today one of my groups made the risky choice of portraying a homosexual relationship. When the teacher character discovered the two students embracing, he pointed his finger and said, "You're in a homosexual relationship! That's not allowed."

"It is too!" said a student. "It's our right in America! Read the Constitution!"

And then the teacher pulled out a sheet of paper and read, "Number one: Homosexual is legal. Number two: it is illegal to laugh at homosexual lovers."

And then all of the characters agreed that, yes, the student was right, the homosexuals should be allowed to remain in a relationship because it says so in the Constitution. I didn't have the heart to tell them that the "Homosexual is legal" clause of Article 3 was killed in committee before ratification.

Later, another group did a skit based on the same romantic relationship scenario. Before they started, they wrote the difficult vocabulary words that they were going to be using on the board, along with Chinese translations. One of the words they wrote up was "Sukra prameha -- 肾亏", which one student later explained to me was a disease where you have to go the bathroom a lot. Actually, according to Google, Sukra Prameha is a "culture-bound syndrome" from Sri Lanka which is also known as "semen-loss anxiety" and is defined as
A form of sexual neurosis associated with excessive semen loss due to frequent intercourse, masturbation, nocturnal emission or passing of white turbid urine which is believed to contain semen. Young people who think they might be suffering from it become anxious and panicky, and complain of somatic symptoms (with no organic cause) such as dizziness, backache, fatigue, weakness, insomnia, frequent dreams and physical thinness.

So, if you had sat in my classes today, you would have seen students shooting each other with super realistic but empty guns, engaging in Consitutionally-sanctioned homosexual relations, and joking about a disease characterized by turbid, semen-filled urine.

Also, you don't just get thin, you get physically thin. Literally. Physically. Thin. That's what happens when you leave your semen all over the place. Just thins you right out. Best diet plan there is. Worked for Oprah.