Darkling Dreaming Teacher

I’m willing to bet that, no matter who they are and how soft-spoken and mild-mannered they are, no matter how much they enjoy teaching and no matter how dedicated to their profession they are, every teacher has dreamed of telling off a student.

I have lived that dream. Kind of. In a way. Rather disturbingly in retrospect.

It happened the end of my first year teaching in Japan. Japanese public school classes are much noisier than most Westerners expect. As I’ve said before, school is often considered social time and teachers tolerate an amount of noise that would trigger meetings and therapy sessions in the USA. Some weeks you can handle it and getting the attention of the class is a game; the next week culture shock sets in and you get angry and frustrated and you start shouting a lot.

In my case, the second wave of culture shock hit in June. For reasons I don’t fully understand, Japanese school years run well into July instead of ending at the end of May when God intended them to end. (I can’t remember the exact verse; And I say unto thee, go thee forth from thy school when the wind turneth as to the South and prosper ye about merrily in thine own way but mostly in Mine.) Something like that.

The weather was getting muggy and hot and my decades of conditioning resisted being in class that late. None of the student rooms were air conditioned.The result was not pretty, although it was kind of fun. I was teaching first year junior high (7th grade) and trying to help a girl during who was finally speaking to me. She’d asked a question and I was there to help her. The boy next to her, though, kept butting in with the answer and what she was doing wrong as she was trying to talk.

Finally, something snapped in my head. I asked the little shi, er, LAD, “Are you an English teacher?” After a couple rounds of “huh?” and me repeating, my Japanese English Teacher finally translated my question. “Are you an English teacher?” He went “No. No. No.” and I said “Then shut the fuck up.”

The teacher translated it as “Please be quiet sit down” in a tone that said “Please be quiet sit the hell down before the insane foreigner loses his last thread of sanity.”

To this day I have mixed feelings about that incident. He was trying to be helpful and I could have reacted in a different way. On the other hand, the young lass had the floor and he was stepping on it. Either way, after my initial feeling of horror and “Did I just say that out loud?” I realized it was kind of fun and actually felt good to say that.

I haven’t done it since. I’ve already lived that dream.

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