Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nov 2: Snippet from the Classroom

I have so many longer posts fighting for top position in my poor, abused brain ... I want to blog, damn it! But I also spent hours grading papers today and yesterday. And I went to separate vocal and choreography rehearsals for one play, and a full dress run for the other today. And made a big pot of homemade chicken soup to feed me through the rest of this busy week. My daughter Elvira complained that I'm too busy, and she's right. I'll be down to only one play after Sunday though.

So for today's post, I offer you this snippet of conversation from my classroom.

The scene. On my big computer screen I put up the list of hot topics my students are not allowed to write about: abortion, gun control, capital punishment, euthanasia ... I assigned their groups to write something using as many argument fallacies as they could, and said they could use one of the hot topics if they wanted. As I walking around giving advice and answering questions, this short conversation occurred. 

W (a student): We could do ours on euthanasia.
L (another student): Where's that?
W: On the list up there.
L: Oh, is that how you spell that? I always thought it was "youth in Asia." Like youth. in. Asia.
Me (the teacher?): You mean when people talked about mercy killing you thought they were talking about people in Asia?
L: Yeah. That's what I always heard, so I thought that's what it meant.
Me: So when you heard euthanasia, you thought they were talking about the starving children in China?
L: Ha! I guess I did. What does it really mean?
Me: It means sometimes I want to kill myself, but I won't give you the satisfaction. (JK. I didn't say that last part. I explained what euthanasia is because I'm a teacher, and I have to do something to earn my summers off.)

I wonder how a person gets to be 19 or 20 years old and thinks euthanasia has to do with kids in China. What did he hear when somebody said that word in context?

I remember my vet telling me I needed to put my dog to sleep last winter. He said, "Pippi has a bladder tumor. You need to prepare yourself for euthanasia." What would L have thought if he'd been there and heard, "Pippi has a bladder tumor. You should prepare yourself for youth in Asia?" That I should get ready to feed my sick dog to those starving children in China? They eat dogs there, right? That I should host a foreign exchange student to keep me company after my dog died? Or would he have thought the vet was telling me to buck up and not feel sad about losing my pup because there were poor kids in China who weren't going to get any rice today? What?

How does "youth in Asia" ever fit into a sentence about euthanasia? Dr. Kevorkian was charged with murder yesterday after he helped a terminally ill woman commit youth in Asia in the back of his death van ..... This hurts my lobes.

I love it when I can make a light bulb go off for one of my students though. No more youth in Asia for him.


  1. Glad you could clear that up for him. Maybe he never really participated in a discussion of euthanasia, just half listened and didn't put it together.

  2. The world's population just hit 7 billion. I think we can blame euthanasia.

  3. Kristin, typically my students haven't been engaged in conversations about....well, about much. In school they took tests.

  4. Diplomat, I'm glad you cleared that up. If only I'd had that answer Monday....

  5. I am an intelligent person with a Masters degree, even. But up until I was 25, I told the world I went to Provokial school. Oh yes, I did. And I had zero clue I was wrong.
    Sometimes, you just hear something wrong and never thing to question it.
    For the record, I PAROCHIAL school was actually pretty good! LOL!

  6. When you say it out loud though, provokial school is pretty clever...if you'd been doing it on purpose. I remember pronouncing segue wrong once and somebody using it soon after to correct me. I never forgot that one.