Through work I found out about a great volunteer opportunity where people from work went to a school and did all of the lessons in one day. Hanging out with kids all day? Sounds good. (That’s not sarcasm, but you’d think it would be.)
I worked with another guy and we were going to teach a fourth grade class. I was randomly assigned to work with him, but he was a very nice guy.
At the time I lived in the Silicon Valley. Which meant the school had a pretty wide array of people. The class had your standard white-bread Americana kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, middle Eastern kids, Asian kids, one kid from Russia and if I recall correctly one kid from Egypt.
How cool is that!
I remember my fourth grade class had, I think, one Asian kid, one black kid, and the rest white. I was living in Leavenworth, Kansas – so those demographics seem about right.
I thought it was great for the kids to see so much diversity at a young age, when you’re less likely (I hope) to have negative pre-conceived notions about any particular nationality, skin color, or whatever.
I was worried though. What if the one Russian kid was a jerk? Then these kids might think of all Russians as jerks. I know that’s pretty silly to have such strong associations with a whole country from one person, but I realized I just did something similar.
I was watching the news about some research PhD’s at Stanford were doing, and one of the researchers was a New Zealander. I’ve never been to New Zealand. As far as I know, I’ve never met a New Zealander. But I am a big fan of The Flight of the Conchords.
My thoughts when this genius PhD was talking? I bet he’s hilarious. I didn’t pay attention to his intelligent thoughts at all, I just waited for the punch line. It never came. (But in my head I think he was just SO DRY that I didn’t get it. Genius New Zealanders and they’re hyper-intelligent humor, it’s just too smart for me.)
I’ll add two things that I thought were funny from that day teaching those kids.
My co-teacher for the day was quite a bit shorter than me, so one of the students walked up to us and said, “hey, why are you so much shorter than him?” That kid is bound to be a scientist. The slighting of my co-teacher continued when we received thank you notes from all of the students (the teacher made them write these) and one of the students addressed my co-teacher, a male, as “Miss.” Awesome.
The other funny thing was an example of how I need to learn when to be sarcastic. Well, I don’t need to learn that, I need to actually do what I know I should.
A little girl came up to my co-teacher and I, “did you guys go out to recess?”
Me: “Yeah, we were at the four-square tearing it up.”
The little girl, very sadly, “oh, I looked for you guys and didn’t see you.”
I am an a-hole.
What’s the point of this scatter-shot Weekly Wacko? Self-made stereotypes make PhDs much more personable. And, I’m an a-hole.