Red Book - Teacher Talk

Monday, April 18, 2011

If there's anything to be scared about in school, it's the teachers. Sure some of your classmates might beat you up in one of the fights, but that's more of a temporary thing. If there's anything I learned about kids early in life, it's that kids have the attention span of a particularly forgetful goldfish. One day you're burying fists in each other's faces, the next day you're sharing coke from a single straw. No, that's not really what's to be scared about.

It's the teachers.

In the land called school, they're the judge, juror, executioner, and occasionally the object of your prepubic lust.

You read that last one right.

I know, I know. I went to an all-boys school. Try to understand.

Cross me and you're going to wish you get this before I get you.
A teacher is not legally allowed to beat up a kid in class. We're not barbaric. What are we, South Korea? No, the worst physical thing a teacher can do is to vent out at other inanimate things incapable of filing assault and battery charges in Bantay Bata 163 such as the blackboard, the cleaning closet, Mark the retard...

Here are other things they usually do without having to resort to manhandling:

1. Throw chalk at you with the precision of a Barret M107 sniper rifle. Years of practice have enabled the more seasoned teachers to reclassify these harmless writing implements into precision strike munitions. 

2. Throw shoes at you. I have no idea on this one, but for some reason it's something that occurs often enough for me to remember. 

3. Make obscene remarks about how they will fong your internal organs. (as immortalized by our Drafting teacher's "babarukahin ko ang bituka mo" the meaning of which eludes me to this day)

4. Throw your notebook on the floor and treat it as though it's the progenitor of the bubonic plague. 

5. Pull your sideburns. I have strong belief that this is the equivalent of capital punishment in the education system. I cannot think of anything more painful, short of an in-classroom crucifiction followed by a 4-chapter nonstop reading of Noli Me Tangere. But that's too inhuman already. Nobody should endure Noli any longer than a chapter every two days.

So to recap, they can do anything EXCEPT lay hands on you, which is very rarely employed and even then, they're done secretively by some teachers who learned how to teach lessons by watching instructional videos from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. For the rest, they have to delegate things to the only people on earth who can, legally and backed by the 1986 National Constitution, beat your ass black and blue.

Your parents.

If a teacher deems you too unruly for her tastes, she'd issue a demand to see your parents. That's when shit just crumbles. First, you have to tell your parents. Parents, being busy people, absolutely hate having to leave whatever it is that they are doing, just to apologize to a bunch of strangers who they are already paying four times a year to keep you out of the house. They're busy, but never too busy to beat you up. 

Strike one.

Of course, when the teachers meet up with the parents, they will mention anything BUT you. I assume the teachers are probably sick of talking to and about adrenaline-junkie children all day and would kill to talk to normal adults. So they'll talk on and on about life, the works, and how they met their husbands 30 years ago, which of course your PARENT are not interested in, but cannot skip because they are in school specifically to ensure that you don't end up out-of-school, which means they'll have to put up with you longer than they already do. At the end of the session the teacher sells the PARENT everything from underwear to life insurance to house and lots. PARENTS HATE THIS. So the first thing they do after they see you again, at the privacy at your own home, they will beat you up for having to put up with all that. Again. 

Strike two.

So in a way, teachers still have the power to manhandle you. But like syndicate bosses, instead of laying hands on you in a personal way, they have bouncers to do the ass kicking for them. At the same time, they earn commission from whatever they manage to sell in the process. It's a win-win situation - for them at least.

As a separate note to our non-Filipino/non-Asian readers, beating an offspring is still the norm in our country. While this maybe reported as unethical by a lot of western countries, we maintain a liberal position on the issue and only limited by the "no blood no foul" rule, end even so, it's more of a guideline than an actual law. Try it sometime. I doubt any kid will have the guts to bring a gun to school knowing that getting caught dead or alive will still mean having to answer to their parents and God-given rights to give a healthy dose of behaviour-corrective physical therapy.

Going back, one of the more noteworthy things about our teachers is that unlike most progressive schools in the country nowadays where the teachers are young and don't stay very long, our teachers have been around for a lot longer than most infrastructures in town. And I wish I was making this up, but my doctor, who is probably no less than 25 years older than me had the same FIRST GRADE teacher as me. The teacher who was pulling my sideburns had, 25 years ago, been pulling my doctor's sideburns as well. We made jokes about how Homer, author of Odyssey went blind because of doing homework for our History teacher, and we half believed that the only reason it can't be true is because they were probably living in different continents at that time. Some of these teachers are so timeless, they're probably still doing what they do best right at this minute. Like right now.

These are the few, the grand, the seasoned people who have for years honed their skills in teaching and disciplining the worst kinds of student to the extent that some feats they perform, when not taken in the context of school, can be mistaken for superpowers. Here are some of those things:

1. They can hurl things at amazingly accurate trajectories. Nevermind that half of our teachers are over sixty. If they can lift it, sure as hell they can chuck it at anybody's direction with an accuracy that would put our SWAT teams to shame. As mentioned above, the only way to avoid getting hit by anything is to avoid putting teachers in a situation where throwing something is the most convenient option they have at disciplining you.

2. Teachers have an amazing ability to recall names of students, even if they handle 5 classes a year with fifty students each. They'd still remember a student from 1991 who happened to have exceptionally horrible handwriting 20 years later. It's like talking with a living breathing google. Once you put it out there, they'll be able to pull it out years later, in the most embarrassing manner possible. Whereas, by comparison, I can't even remember the name of the guy at work I talked to earlier. What I do believe is that he's my boss. (I think)

3. Teachers can read your mind. I'm not saying all teachers can read your mind. Some of them, most of them the younger ones who haven't suffered the continuous onslaught of puberty-related evils, are just plain clueless. The rest, the veterans, can read your mind like it's morning paper headline on a bright sunny day. The only reason why you think they never seem to listen is that they don't care, and most of the time, what's on your mind isn't worthy of exiting it through any orifice of your body anyway. If there's still doubt in your mind, try cheating. If there's some brilliant plan you're thinking of, chances are there's somebody who's tried to do it already 5, 10 years ago. It's still old hat, no matter what. Speaking of which,

4. Once there was a teacher who said to us that she could hear the voice of God speaking to her during exams to tell her who was cheating. While I'd love to say how much implausible that may be, and I shit you not, this teacher CAN catch cheaters better than Angela Lansbury catches murderers in Murder She Wrote. For the teacher's case, you didn't even need to commit the act. The moment your mind formulates a plan, the teacher's eyes are already glued on you, like a hungry hawk waiting for the poor mouse to make a move. If we had ombudsmans at par with my teacher, the instant politicians meet the eyes of madame teacher, they'd be pleading guilty to 10 years of prison already. Teachers can sniff dishonesty, fear, and body odor beyond normal human limits.

If Professor X were among our teachers in gradeschool/highschool, the only thing that would probably make him stand out is that he's got slightly less hair than his male colleagues. Other than that, he'd be joe ordinary.

One day I'm going to have kids. And they'd probably have to put up with teachers like that too. The odds of them meeting the very same teachers with me if they got to the same school are reasonable enough and they'd get their sideburns pulled by third generation punishment. I'd say it'll be all good, and maybe someday when their patilyas are no longer hurting so bad, we'd have a good laugh about it.

At least maybe until the teachers summon me.

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