Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Funny, not funny

Yesterday one of my students came back. He had skipped two classes, and I had missed him. My classes at my Tuesday university are a bit dull this year, aside from him. He is the one really bright spark. His English level is low, which is to be expected (I have the lowest level classes ALL DAY at that place this semester, oh dear, and the baseline seems to be inching down), but that does not stop him from trying very hard, loudly, and enthusiastically. He is particularly interested in being funny in English, and often succeeds. When I correct a mistake, he repeats my correction, then repeats his mistake and wants to know, "But is it FUNNY? It's FUNNY, isn't it?" It often is.

He was particularly exuberant yesterday, and stood up when I entered the room.


"Yes, I am!" I said, and I was. He livens up the class enormously. When he is there, taking loud risks with a difficult and frightening language, the other students feel emboldened to take smaller, quieter risks, knowing they'll be overlooked in the general confusion and hilarity he causes. Nobody will laugh at them. They'll be too busy laughing at him as he hams it up.

"Where did you go?" I asked. "Why were you absent? We missed you!"

He beamed proudly.

"I ... GRANDFATHER! ... KILLED!" he bellowed.

"You what?" I asked, and he turned to one of his friends and said, "That was right, wasn't it?"

"I think 'killed' is korosu," answered his friend, hesitantly. "Maybe you mean . . . dead?"

"HA HA HA!" said my favourite student. "NOT KILLED, NO NO NO!"

"Good," I said.


He sat down.

Then he stood up again.


"No," I told him. "You worried me."


But I was only half joking.

A couple of years ago I had a student turn up for the first time in my classes halfway through semester. He came up and told me (in front of the class) that he had been absent because his mother was murdered and the police had been questioning him.

I found this rather disconcerting, to say the least. Wouldn't I have been warned if I was going to have a murder suspect in my class? Could it really be true? But would he have made up something like that? That evening I went back over old newspapers online and sure enough, the story was there. It was a gory sort of murder.

Someone should have told me. My student shouldn't have had to. Also, it would have been nice to be a little prepared. That boy was not an easy student.* (He was not a murderer, though. A few months later the mother's boyfriend was arrested.)

So that's why my favourite student gave me a bit of a flashback yesterday. The last time someone told me a family member had been murdered, it turned out to be true.

I didn't tell him that, though.

*Well, OF COURSE he was not an easy student, the poor kid.


kenju said...

I don't think I'd handle that well at all!

Keera Ann Fox said...

My! You do have interesting (!) students!

But it was rather funny. Admit it. :-)