Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bribery and corruption

On Thursday I almost convinced my last, naughty class that if they wanted to pass they would have to bribe me. As class was starting, one of the students was giving another student 1000 yen for something, and I pretended it was for me. I held out my hand for it.

"For me?" I asked. Then I added, scornfully, "That won't get you an A!" and turned it down.

The student gaped at me uncomprehendingly, but one of the other students, who always listens carefully (his English is very low level but he is learning fast) was paying close attention, and after a few minutes of thinking about it all asked me interestedly how much would get him an A. ¥10,000?

"About that," I said. "And ¥5000 for a B."

"C is ¥1000?" he asked.

"No. ¥1000 is fail," I told him.

His friend wanted to know what we were talking about, so he translated. They puzzled over why anyone would pay me ¥1000 to fail, and then decided between them that a C should cost ¥3000. The rest of the class was, by now, listening interestedly. The first student calculated how much I would get if the whole class wanted As, and told me it could be my bonus.

Two students pulled out their wallets.


In fact I'm still not sure if they were joking or not, but I made it clear that I was. At least I hope I did. Bribery is unethical and unprofessional, I told them, without actually using those words because they wouldn't have understood them.

On the other hand, I told one guy who is on the verge of failing (but I'm going to pass him because he's been trying, finally – I failed him first semester) that it was his job to erase the blackboard at the end of class every week from now on if he wanted to pass. I keep meaning to get students to do that anyway, but this is the first time I've actually managed to get someone to do it willingly. I'm hoping he will do it every week from now on. There are only four weeks left anyway, and I'd already decided to pass him so it's not really a bribe. He just thinks it is.

After class I bumped into my boss, who had been teaching in the room next to mine.

"Sometime I would like you to come into my class and yell at me," I told him.

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, I've been building you up all year as the Big Bad Bully Boss," I told him. "That class always wants to finish early, and I tell them I can't let them go yet because my scary boss is next door, and if he finds out he will fire me. If I let them go five minutes early I tell them to tiptoe out in the other direction, so they won't go past your classroom and you won't see. But last week I let them go ten minutes early, and now they don't believe me."

"TEN minutes early?" asked my boss, frowning.

"Yes," I said. "You can fire me if you like. I couldn't deal with them any longer without killing someone."

My boss thought for a moment.

"How about if I come in and start yelling at you and you yell back, only louder?" he suggested. "That would be funny, because I'm bigger than you."

"No," I told him sternly. "You have to yell at me, and I will cower."

What I didn't tell him is that I am also planning, when he yells at me, to yell back that I HAD to let my students go early because I was so upset that they were trying to bribe me. I know he will ask them about this in Japanese (he is a terrible teacher and uses mostly Japanese in his classes and his students don't need to know any English at all), and my students will have a wonderful time getting indignant and insisting that it was me and asking if he will REALLY fire me.

I have two reasons for wanting to do this. One reason is that if there is just one student in that class who didn't realize the bribery thing was a joke, at least I will have a reliable witness to the fact that it was, if that student complains to someone or even just tells someone (who tells someone else who tells someone else), and the next thing you know it has come up in a faculty meeting and I'm fired.

The other reason I want to do it is that I think it will be funny.


kenju said...

I'm sure it will be funny, and a good object lesson. Very smart move!

Kitty said...

Hey, what happened next? Did the boss come and yell :)?

nil zed said...

did he??