Thursday, December 10, 2015

The dead frog analogy

Teaching adult education for twenty odd years was fun, and occasionally rewarding. Yet certain moments are bound to stand out. I will never forget the two funniest incidents I have ever had in a classroom.

While grading a short essay for an Economics course, the student was asked the difference between stocks and bonds. In an obvious yet hilarious cut and paste off the Internet (a practice we frowned upon of course and graded accordingly), the answer began: "Stocks were medieval devices of public humiliation and torture." It went on to explain, in some, ah, fascinating detail, the exact nature of certain forms of torture. Reading this challenged my attempts to stay calm and professional, to not laugh out loud at my desk in a room full of students. I had no trouble keeping control until the last sentence: "Bonds are government issued interest bearing securities."

Well, the student was half right in his answer, and I was able to keep my professional wits. Barely.

On another occasion, I had an English assignment to grade. With that one, I did go on to completely lose my composure in peals of laughter which I tried valiantly to hide but to no avail. I had to leave the room for ten minutes initially, hiding in an empty teacher's lounge while leaving the other instructor (there were two of us at all times in our teaching arrangement) to lament my having abandoned him. Luckily it was a slow night.

The assignment was to make comparisons in the form of analogies. The first prompt read: "Tom's car was old." Expected responses were along the lines of, 'Tom's car was older than baseball.' Instead I was treated to, "Tom's car was older than a dead frog."

I was okay at first; I stifled my giggles, although it took it a few seconds of tongue biting to maintain myself. But I was good.

The next prompt was, 'Abby was hungry.' Harmless enough. Until I read the student's offering.

"Abby was very hungry, like a sad clown who had fell off his bike."

I immediately roared uncontrollably. Shawn, the other teacher, asked what was up. Giving him the paper I replied between guffaws, "Read the first two sentences and I'll be back in a few minutes."

On my return, finally beyond any wild laughter, the first thing Shawn said was, "I can see why you didn't give credit for the first analogy. The frog may not have been dead that long."

I returned after another twenty minutes. Good times.

No comments: