Monday, October 09, 2006

If I were an African, I'd smack that kid

On Friday I was teaching a second-year writing class with another teacher on the subjunctive mood (ex: if I were you, I would...). The writing class is filled with kids who, rather than simply providing simple answers, try their best to come up with something amusing and unexpected each time. To give you an idea of what it's like, both Duckboy and the sagely Life=Happiness Music kid are in the class.

We're calling on students for example sentences using the subjunctive mood. The depressing answer of the day is the completion of the phrase, "If my father had more free time.." with "he could be working harder." Wow, sucks to be your dad, you little authoritarian prick. But generally, we get innocuous answers like "If I had enough money, I would buy a big house." and "If I had enough time, I would want to play soccer." Fair enough, I think.

Then the sage raises his hand and volunteers his sentence:

"If I were an African, I would hunt animals."

I go over to make sure that he actually wrote down what he just said.

Yeah, he did write and say that.

Meanwhile there is little response from the rest of the class, and as I turn around I realize the teacher has just gone ahead and written down his answer on the board. I roll my eyes and take this opportunity to teach the kid a couple of pertinent English words by leaning over to type into his electronic dictionary: "S-T-E-R-E-O-T-Y-P-E." and "I-G-N-O-R-A-N-T." as in, "If I were you, I'd be embarrassed as your stereotype shows how ignorant you are." I write this on the board and make a mental note to ask their social studies teacher to maybe point out next class that not all Africans are currently hunter-gatherers.

Later in class, I realize that they've all just copied down what I wrote on the board as if it was another example sentence from the textbook, missing the point entirely. JET internationalization fails again.

3 comments:

drcaa said...

If I were an African, I would hunt too! I enjoy being a hunter-gatherer.

Fishkiller

Greg Sperla said...

Great stuff. I liked the Jay-Z bit below too. This reminds me that I haven't read Dr. Throppe in awhile.

Coltar said...

If I were an animal, I would hunt Africans. All that hunting exercise probably makes them delicious!