I have a favorite class. I call them the “Boy Class.” It’s made of 7 students, all boys, all 4th grade, all so hyperactive they could easily star in their own cereal commercials, and all brilliant and hilarious. I sincerely wish that every teacher in Korea or anywhere around the world could have the amazing good fortune of teaching a class as well suited to their personality as my Boy Class is to mine. They ghost me in the hallways on break. They’re obsessed with Kim Jong-il’s waterslide and cite that as the prime flaw of communism. Every day, my grammar lessons feature the words murder, puke, dork, nerd, and imbecile.
They make my heart smile.
Recently, I had to teach them a whole unit about the Midwest. One student, Andrew, is a repeat offender of drawing in his text book. One day, he’s sitting front row and I see him giggling to himself and sketching quietly on a picture of a Chicago Cubs player sliding into home with the catcher squatting out of focus in the background. As I approach Andrew and let the word “STOP–” escape my mouth, I see that he is merely drawing arrows as if to magically guide the still-framed runner’s foot naturally along a simple path into the catcher’s nuts. Before “DRAWING IN YOUR BOOK,” could follow my exclamation, I too was giggling and was no longer in a position to reprimand my student.
Perhaps this was the day that everything I said about the Midwest was lost on my student named Harry, but I will never know for sure. All I do know is that Harry, one of those husky-voiced kids who looks like a tiny version of a full-grown, chubby middle aged man, didn’t hear a god damned thing I said about the Mall of America or water skiiing on Lake Michigan or industrialized farming or meat processing or the fact that Detroit is the heart of the automotive industry. Somewhere in the middle of all that lecturing and checking for comprehension, I must have glossed over Harry altogether. I know this, because I assigned the essay topic “Would you rather live in the Great Lakes States of the Great Plains States?” And this, my dear friends, was Harry’s response in its full, unedited glory:
Would you rather live in the Great Lakes or the Great Plains?
by Harry, Grade 4
When I lives in the great lakes of great plains, I will build a house with a special method and get a food from hunt animals. Because there is a forest so there are many trees and muds, I will make a house with stone, mud, and tree. First, I will build structure with the tree and lay stones half and a half of the structure. And paste a mud in and on the house. And hund animal with a knife that grind stone.
I will write a Diary, Daily to make it to a book. If I make a book, I will be a celebrity, so I will become very rich. Because people will read my diary, they will want to experience like me to traveling alone.
I will make a plan to survive in the great lakes.
Day 1. Find where to build house. If found, build and get a trash. It’ll be useful.
Day 2. Go to the sea and get the seafood and see whether there is a boat daily.
Day 3. Grind stone to make a knife. After grind, hunt, and watch whether there’s boat.
Day 4 ~ Day ? Need to behave regularly like Day 3 until someone rescue me.
Maybe I failed Harry on that chapter, but honestly, I’m so glad I did. Hell, the way Harry wrote it, he actually makes the Midwest sound worth visiting. Why go to the Mall of America when you can grind stone to make a knife and build your own house from a mud and a tree?