Thursday, October 05, 2006


Something odd is going on in one of today's classes. We're in the third week, now, and the class lists arrived in my mailbox last week. I looked at the list and thought I must be looking at the wrong one. There were twenty-four students on the list, but I had only seen ten of them. Where were the other fourteen?

I decided to let it go for another week.

This week two more turned up. I am DELIGHTED to have a twelve student class, but ... where are the others? Why did they register for the class and then not turn up? I asked my boss.

"Did you set really hard requirements?" he asked.

"I don't think so," I said. "But they don't know what the requirements are anyway. They've never come to find out."

"Oh," he said. "Then they must be engineering students."

"No," I replied. "My engineering students are coming, and they're good. This lot are business students. Also, it's the lowest class. After the retesting at the end of semester most of the class moved up. I have only one from my old class, and the rest are failures who have moved down."

"Maybe that explains it," he said.

"It must have been a pretty strange test," I added. "The one who didn't move up is the only one I gave an A to last semester. She was the only one in that class who actually spoke English. And these 'failures' who have moved down to my class are all better than she is. It's weird."

"Oh," said my boss. He looked a little disturbed, and it suddenly occurred to me that he might have written the test. His job includes things like that. Now I couldn't ask. I kept my face carefully innocent. (How can I find out who wrote the test, I wonder, now that I've closed off that avenue?)

I asked the students who DID come today whether there was a reason for the no-shows. Did I have a horrible reputation? Did they think the non-attending students (who I've never met) had heard of me, and panicked?

They laughed. Did that mean yes, or no? They told me no, but they would, wouldn't they?

I have decided to believe that I do not have a horrible reputation that is preventing my new students from coming to class. If that was the case, they wouldn't have signed up for it, right? (Unless they didn't know who their teacher would be when they signed up. Oh, dear. Better check that.)

No, it CAN'T be that. In order to preserve my ego, I've decided that the reason they're not coming is that they are disillusioned by the test that my boss probably wrote. The test has led them to believe that their English became worse after attending the classes of foreign teachers, and so they've decided to take the wise precaution of stopping before they lose what little they have left.