Tag Archives: class

2218. The chemist

Have you heard of the communist tyrant responsible for millions of deaths?  He was a chemist and at some stage, after lurking anonymously in the background of power, was able to poison three quarters of the population. No one knew who he was but it was believed that the person was still alive and perhaps living in luxury.

Which brings me to a simpler scene: an ordinary chemistry class at school. Young Harry has asked his chemistry teacher a simple question. Ms Braxton was a tyrannical chemistry teacher. She was to be feared. Not one of her pupils learnt Chemistry out of love; they learnt it out of fear. Ms Braxton had been teaching Chemistry for so long that several generations had passed through the school despising Chemistry. Rumour had it that she knew who the tyrannical communist chemist was; perhaps even she had taught the murderous persecutor.

Young Harry’s question was simply this: Why does bread go brown when it is toasted? Ms Braxton had explained that the starch under heat reflected light to the right (“dextra” was the Latin word for “right” so the brown bit was called dextrin). That made the toast look brown. It’s why the crust on a loaf of bread is brown.

Ms Braxton certainly knew her stuff. She was very learned. She lived alone in a very big house and drove a very expensive car. The question young Harry (and most of the impressionable teenagers in the class) really wanted to ask was “How come you’re so rich?” In fact, he did ask her. She got very angry and told him to mind his own business. Her reaction was certainly proof of something don’t you think?

1991. Alien Class

Okay Class, now settle down. Good morning.

This is the third introductory class to life on Planet Earth. To think that it’s only five months before you begin your “visitation” to Earth, so we have lots and lots of work to do.

Today’s topic could be construed as being a little sensitive; at least the humans on Earth might regard it as being sensitive. It’s about a function they have or do that we simply don’t have. Nature has evolved us in a complexly different direction. We expel waste in a hygienic, constant, and unnoticeable way through what the Earthings would call our “skin”. The Earthlings however expel waste through a completely different process called…

Excuse me, Hottopius. Just settle down. I’m not telling you this for your entertainment…

Yes, Gloteressa? You have a question? You have been reading about it? You know all about it already? What is it you’ve read about?…

No! No! Gloteressa! That’s not how it happens; not how it happens at all! Goodness knows where you dug that up from. That’s not how they expel waste on Earth. Not in the slightest. The person who wrote that is living in La-la land.

Usually humans will leave, and sometimes rush from, the room away from others and go into a little cubicle reserved specifically for this function. It’s extremely private, which is why we know so little about it. Constipolorus, our great scientist, hid a camera in a cubicle and recorded what exactly went on. So we now know a thing or two. The video of activity I’m afraid I can’t show you because it is classified material, but I can perhaps describe it for you in detail…

Yes, Buckanorsis? You what? You’ve seen the videos? You saw the videos on Disgracebook? What did you think?…

Disgusting? You thought it disgusting? Well I’m not surprised. And if in five months you are to make a “visitation” to Planet Earth then you had better get used to what humans do in that little cubicle. Everyone there does it. It’s part of what happens on their planet.

You have a question, Blubberteria? Yes! Yes! You’re right. I was about to say by what names the expulsion of waste materials by humans goes under. They have many different words for it – such is the sacredness (or should I perhaps say secretness?) of the process. The most common expression I believe is “heave your guts out”. Some books refer to it as “psychedelic chunder”. Others simply say “throw up”.

Here’s what I want you to do before next class: take your Roget’s and dictionaries and make a list of all the words and phrases that Earthlings use to describe this fascinating private cubicle activity.

Class dismissed.

1976. First class

It was the first class that Owen had ever taught as a qualified teacher. He had spent a few years getting a university degree and passing the required training at Teachers’ College. He had no trouble finding employment. He would teach English to High School students.

Discipline was the catch cry. Discipline! Let the students get away with murder and they’ll be murdering the teacher for the rest of the teacher’s career. Be stern – at least for the first week or two. Owen was well prepared. He was nervous, but having thoroughly prepared lessons lessens the unpredictability of the classroom. He would walk into the classroom and announce work! Work! Work! Work! Let the students know from the beginning that he meant business.

Owen strode into the room carry a class set of “King Lear”. After introducing himself, he would hand each student a copy of “King Lear” and say “Turn to page 24”.

The teacher’s desk was on a small rostrum. Owen tripped on the rostrum step, fell, and threw the pile of twenty-two books into the air. The students roared with laughter. Owen himself laughed! After all his preparation and that happened!

The students saw him laugh. Yes! He was a jolly good fellow. He enjoyed his first class. He never had any problem ever with class discipline. Teachers who can laugh rarely do.

1879. Really, really dumb

Let’s face it: Melvyn was dumb. Even his teacher, who tried her best to be nice, thought he was dumb. “Your child is dumb,” she said to Melvyn’s parents. “Really, really dumb.” It made no difference, because Melvyn took after his parents. They were dumb too.

His teacher would spend half an hour explaining to her students why grass was green, and at the end of all this Melvyn would put up his hand and ask, “Miss, why is grass green?” Not just dumb, but aggravating. Away with the fairies.

His exercise books were incomprehensible. They were a mess of doodles and numbers. Call that arithmetic? Goodness gracious! The sooner this child left school and got a job clearing the city’s sewerage system the better.

Then one day, Melvyn put up his hand and asked the teacher, “What happens if, when you loop one quantum particle around another, you don’t get back to the same quantum state?”

The teacher told Melvyn to get back to doing his work.

Let’s face it: the teacher was dumb. Even Melvyn, who tried his best to be nice, thought she was dumb. “My teacher is dumb,” Melvyn said to his parents. “Really, really dumb.”

And indeed she was – in more ways than one.

1871. Good morning, Creative Writing Class

The Head of the Laboratory was an arch-bastard. His name was Regis. As his name suggests, he thought he was King of the Roost. He ruled the laboratory technicians with an iron fist. They hated him, but the laboratory had such an extraordinary reputation that everyone under the sun wanted to work there.

This was the laboratory that pioneered taking bones of long dead creatures, especially humans, putting them together, and bringing them to life. This might sound ridiculous but it is four hundred years ahead of where you, Dear Creative Writing Class, are currently sitting in your backward and immovable mind set.

Regis decreed that his bones should be reassembled and infused with life. He was not particularly enamoured with the thought of getting old, so he did himself in, and he left specific instructions that he was to be immediately reassembled.

I know what you’re thinking, Dear Creative Writing Class. You’re thinking that the laboratory technicians refused to put him back together. You would be wrong. Perhaps you’re thinking that the laboratory technicians muddled his bones up with those of a crocodile or something. You would be wrong. Perhaps they put his legs on backwards. You would be wrong.

No! What happened was this:

 

1813. It’s all in the telling

Every scar tells a story. Barry knew that. It’s why he wore his shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Everyone in the classes he taught would see the scar that ran up the underside of his arm from the wrist to the elbow.

“How did you get the scar, sir?” asked a pupil in his algebra class.

“It’s a scar from when I got by-pass surgery done on my heart,” said Barry. “They take a blood vessel out of your arm and replace a clogged up blood vessel that goes into the heart. It’s quite a common operation.”

No one believed him. It’s all in the telling. Barry knew that the real story would leak out; how he and his now ex-wife were visiting the zoo and his wife had shoved Barry towards an over-excited chimpanzee. The chimp tried to protect its baby and clawed Barry on the arm leaving blood everywhere and in the long run a permanent scar.

“How did you get the scar, sir?” asked a pupil in the following year’s algebra class.

“It’s a scar from when I got by-pass surgery done on my heart,” said Barry.

No one believed him. It’s all in the telling. Barry knew that the real story would leak out; how he had been leading the famous car race in the Isle of Man when his vehicle skidded off the road and into a tree. The accident required extensive surgery to his arm.

“How did you get the scar, sir?” asked a pupil in the following year’s algebra class.

“It’s a scar from when I got by-pass surgery done on my heart,” said Barry.

No one believed him. It’s all in the telling. Barry knew that the real story would leak out; how he had jumped between a mad gunman and a little old lady. He saved the lady, but the bullet grazed his arm and it required surgery.

“How did you get the scar, sir?” asked a pupil in the following year’s algebra class.

1796. Chocolates for grandparents

Now children, it’s a day to celebrate your grandparents. Grandparents Day! I never had a grandparent myself. They were all dead before I was born except for one grandmother and she was really nasty. In fact, she was in prison for poisoning my grandfather. She poisoned him by injecting weed-killer into homemade chocolates. I was always jealous of those who had proper grandparents. I hated it when other kids talked about their grandparents and how nice they were.

Anyway, I want those who have four grandparents living nearby to form a line here. And those with three grandparents living nearby to form a line here. Those with two grandparents living nearby to form a line here. Those with one grandparent living nearby to form a line here. And those with no grandparents can go outside and play.

I have a basket of chocolates and, depending on what line you are in, you are to take one, two, three, or four chocolates. After school today I want you to go and visit your grandparents and surprise them with a chocolate each for Grandparents’ Day.

I made the chocolates myself using a recipe my grandmother used.

1725. Perambulators

Bronwyn and Myra belongs to the New Mothers Support Group. One of the things the Group facilitated was for young mothers to go for interesting walks together, chat away, share mutual baby problems, and push their babies in the perambulators.

Bronwyn and Myra lived in quite a small town, so it was logical that most days they joined for a stroll. Mainly they would window shop. Sometimes they would go to see things inside a shop but the bulkiness of the perambulators precluded many cramped shopping spaces. They had walked up and down the town’s shopping centre a hundred times. There was only one shop window they had never paused before: the Undertaker’s.

It’s hard to believe that anyone would put coffins in their shop window, said Bronwyn to Myra.

Go on! Be a devil! said Myra. Which one would you like?

How they laughed and um-ed and ah-ed! Bronwyn chose an expensive oak casket with elaborate handles. Nothing like going out in style, said Bronwyn.

Myra liked the pure white one. I can see a bunch of deep red roses sitting on top of that white coffin, she said. And within forty-eight hours…

That’ll be the bell, said the teacher. Put your laptops away, and I’ll see you all in creative-writing class tomorrow.

1633. A salutary lesson

Hugo was a teacher of the old school. He believed that students were born with empty heads and it was his job to stuff knowledge into them. SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND LEARN.

Guntar was a teacher of more contemporary times. He believed students were born with heads full of knowledge. It was his job to gently draw knowledge out. Good morning everyone. What would you like to talk about today? Perhaps we could share how we feel about it.

Hugo and Guntar taught at the same school at the same time. They were both successful teachers. One pushed knowledge in, the other sweet-talked knowledge out. Well, the next thing was (would you believe?) Guntar was appointed the headmaster. The more liberal stance became official; in fact, it became compulsory.

We care about people. It is the humane way. It takes into account where the students are at and how they feel. You must coax the knowledge lovingly out of each student.

Hugo didn’t think much of the new directive. He complained at a staff meeting. Guntar answered:

“You call yourself a teacher? It’s conservative, right wing idiots like you who are not open to new ideas. I suggest you SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND LEARN. As free-minded people we prefer to share and do things in a more open liberal way. So use your initiative and do it my way.”

These days Hugo delivers mail on foot from house to house. It’s a job. Guntar, on the other hand, has risen to new heights; he’s now a bigwig in the Department of Education. Teachers beware! You had better SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND LEARN to be open and tolerant.

1578. Heather’s blueberry muffins

Heather Green wasn’t exactly disliked at school. She wasn’t much liked either. In fact, she was a bit of a nobody. If a teacher said to a student “Take Heather Green and go get the bag of basketballs” most students would say “Who’s Heather Green?”

She wasn’t horrible. Nor was she Ms Personality. It’s just that she wasn’t very self-confident. When the class messed around a bit she would sit there and smile but wouldn’t take part. It wasn’t that she was prudish or anything; she was just a bit scared to let herself go.

Anyway, everyone in the class, boys and girls, had one hour a week when they attended a cooking class. It was very exciting because the cooking teacher announced towards the end of the year that they were going to have a party. They could make whatever they wanted (at home) and bring it to school for the celebration. Well! If there was one thing Heather Green knew she could do was make blueberry muffins. She had made them dozens of times at home. They were moist! They were tasty! They were perfect! Heather went home and baked the most delightful batch of blueberry muffins the world had ever seen! She arranged them in a basket with a red and white chequered cloth. In fact she could have been mistaken for Little Red Riding Hood if she had been seen skipping through a forest; and if they were, in fact, the best blueberry muffins in the world that Little Red Riding Hood had in her basket.

Heather quietly left her basket of muffins on the common table. When it came time to eat, Heather’s muffins were horrible. They tasted yuck. It was the only time her blueberry muffins hadn’t turned out right.

Yuck Heather. What a loser. Who’s Heather?