Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ah, The Kids: A Post With A Soundtrack

Maybe all my posts should have soundtracks from now on. Only I'm afraid I'd start getting all anal about telling you when and where to start which song.

Actually, I should totally do a post like that.

But for this one, it's just the one song.

The video is lame. Just play the fucking song, all right? Because pretending you're in the 60s makes everything seem way cooler and trippier than it is, so long as you don't think about the armpit hair overly much.

First, my today's horoscope:

A fog settles over the land this afternoon, making your logic unreliable as a navigational tool. You aren't as certain about anything today. Although you can feel a rumbling beneath the surface, it's not strong enough to be an earthquake. Finding your way can be tricky, but you don't have a choice now. Trust your imagination while drawing the map that you need to reach your future destination.

Of course, I had an earthquake dream last night.  Anyway. Just tripping out a little bit here.

So, the kids. Today, the kids staged a flag waving "Protect The Turkish Flag" protest in response to last Friday's hunger protest. Thanks to a super-cool former student who's totally worth keeping in touch with just because she's the kind of human being I want to know, I knew this protest was going to happen today.

Though even without the insider's tip, I might have guessed something was up. Since Friday's Occurrence, security guards have been strolling around campus with coppish-looking older fellows in dark suits who talk on the phone all the time.

Wish it was this soup.
I figured their protest would be around lunchtime like the last one was, so I brought my lunch from home. It was some Mystery Soup I found in the freezer the other day. I have no memory of making the soup, but it seemed to involve a whole bunch of stuff that I needed to get rid of all at once, probably because it was about to spoil. Also beans. It's yummy, except for the tomatoes. I don't even like tomatoes, so goodness knows why I put them in the soup. At least I cut them in big hunks for easy removal, which was considerate of me. Thanks, Past Tense Stranger!

I was in a dickish mood today. I kicked out half a class for failing to bring laptops, and they were all panicked and dismayed because they're really good students most of the time. I felt kind of guilty for upsetting them, but not too much. Life sucks sometimes, kids. Get used to it. Within 15 minutes, they had all returned with laptops, though one group couldn't use theirs because they didn't know the password. But they still did their work. Well, one kid in the group, anyway. One kid had a nap and the other read his graded reader.

God dammit. I'll bet you anything I give those kids good grades just for being nice, even the sleeper. Anyway.

For my second class, the first hour was the much-coveted Library Training, a once-a-year event when someone from the library comes to your room to explain some stuff about the library. So my job was to turn up and make sure the library training was actually taking place. It was. I confirmed the training would take the full hour and then I left.

What a fucking dick.
When I came back about half the class was there. At this point, it's worth explaining this class. About half of them are wealthy, spoiled, private-school educated, fabulous Istanbulites. They ooze money and privilege and arrogance. For the most part, they're quite good students, but at the same time they're rude, impatient, and selfish. They're also noisy, which is kind of the same as selfish in a classroom. And they oof a lot about how bored they are, and play with their phones and twirl their hair, including the boy with the Bieber-do.

The other half of them are regular kids, or kids on the list of Anadolu Lisesi students that Rektör Bey made sure we saw this year, so we'd be extra supportive of them. As though we needed a list. These kids are shy, well-mannered, hard-working, and pretty much the kind of kids you'd bust your ass for even if Rektör didn't tell you to. Also one of them is blind. The worst problem you have with these kids is getting them to come for help when they need it. The worst thing about them in general is that they'll graduate the program quickly and not be your students anymore.
It's good to be the queen.

I got all Draconian last week and made assigned seating because the Dynasty kids had crossed the line of obnoxiousness and entitlement. If the blind kid can't hear, he doesn't have a lesson, and the nice kids would never tell you they were having a problem concentrating. It was a little like that logic game with the geese and the fox and the bag of grain crossing the river. This one can't be anywhere near that one, these two will or won't work together nicely, and you can't ask the blind kid to change his seat because it's too much of a hassle with the stick and laptops and power outlets and his graduate-student helper who's with him all the time. But I managed it and the problem is solved for now. The rich kids all made a lengthy show of kissing each other goodbye, one by one, as they moved to their seats two meters away.

Not a pleasure to have in the classroom.
I was unmoved even though I hated myself for becoming this person.

So, back to today. When I came back after the library training, guess which half of the class wasn't there?

Actually, I was glad. It meant I got to have a nice lesson without Jan's and Marcia's and Justin's hair, or their little toady popping his lips incessantly, and there was no bitching or oofing or custom ringtones. 25 minutes into the class the Dynasty kids burst into the room breathlessly with their flags asking if they were absent. I told them yes and encouraged them to collect their things quickly.

And here's me trying to figure out what it means. A class thing? A polite kid-not polite kid thing? Place of origin? Ethnicity? An excuse to skip class? Or something I'm completely missing? It's probably the last one.

Almost certainly the last one.

Here's the thing. If certain of my kids had wanted to attend the hunger strike protest, I probably would have let it slide because I would have guessed it wasn't just an excuse to skip class. But those kids never would have expected or asked for special treatment anyway.

Look, by law and by convention and by wanting to keep my job, I can't say anything to my kids one way or the other. I never would anyway, partly because I have a sort of authority that makes it not fair, partly because I'm foreign which fucks whatever balance even further, and partly because my risks and theirs are totally not the same, were I to encourage one sort of behavior over another.

It's a position to be in that makes me feel dirty, and not in a good way.

Still, the way I figure it, especially with the dark-suited fellows accompanying security around all day, the kids on Friday took a huge risk by sitting on the stairs. The ones today took no risk whatsoever by brandishing their flags and shouting.

And the ones who came to class knew what they were doing, for whatever reason and regardless of where their political sympathies lie. I let them go five minutes early to reward them for whatever they deserved to be rewarded for. They looked stricken, like I was mad at them and sending them out. It took the remaining five minutes to convince them I thought they were great, and that I just didn't want to rush them through a bunch of vocabulary just to fill five minutes, and that it was my way of saying thanks for being cool.

Also it's about the only way I can be a little bit subversive, however flat it fell.

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