Asked any stupid questions lately?

I’m not a genius. If you really think about it, do you know any real geniuses?

Well, anyway, I say dumb things all the time. So, since most of us are not immune to saying stupid things, perhaps we ought to be more understanding of the stupid things other people say. Maybe?

But that is hard.

And there is a scale of dumb.

I teach adults from other countries, so keep that in mind.

The other day one of my students said–after a discussion about a controversial Supreme Court ruling–“At least it is better than in Mexico.” She is from Mexico and her family has experience criminal violence firsthand. Well, yeah. Sure. But I didn’t think that should be the standard.

She insisted that even our bad laws were better than Mexico, so we should not complain.

What? So, as long as things are better than Mexico, we’re good?

The next day this student said, “What I said yesterday was stupid. I can’t believe I said that.”

Well, I would’ve said illogical. (Are stupid and illogical the same thing?)

But then there was the student in another class. We watched the first episode of the BBC’s Sherlock. Have you seen it? A student asked if Sherlock was hypnotized.


Then she asked if the serial killer’s deadly game was a real game.

I should hope not.

This same student once had to be told the tiny men in the tea leaves in a short story were not real men. It is not real?


But we’ve all asked stupid questions. Asked or been asked any good ones lately?

And the American family is?

my kiddo skates fast

My students–who come from all over the world–were asking me about American families. Why do we make our kids leave home at 18? Well, I don’t think we make them leave, but we do seem to have a different attitude about children leaving home. I had a hard time answering their questions though. My own experience growing up and leaving home wasn’t typical (what is typical?) and I can’t represent every population and all the views…

I have to remind my students that Americans aren’t all like me. So often I ask them, “What comes to mind when you think of an American?” “Blond.” Sigh.

But that is something else all together. The last few days they’ve wanted to ask about families. One student believes that American parents are fine with their kids getting hotel rooms and that kids take drugs because their parents do.

It was a long conversation and I know I failed to explain the half of it. How on earth do you explain the American family?

You could always hug your grammar book instead.

My spring term began this week, and students are still trying to sort out their schedules. Today a student came up to me and said, “I want to take your writing class, but I don’t feel like writing. What should I do?”

I especially hate it when a student I like asks a question like this.

Or like this,

“Are there tests in your grammar class? I don’t want to take any tests.”


Mind you, the student had this conversation with me while I was dealing with a copy machine that had jammed for the second time in less than five minutes while my grammar students were waiting for me.

The reply that went through my mind was something along the lines of, “There were going to be tests, but now since you said that we shall draw pictures of nouns and hug them.”

I didn’t say that.

What would you have said?

Small Gifts

Today a former student stopped me in the hallway to give me an article on self-publishing she’d cut from the newspaper. She hasn’t been in a class of mine for a year, and I rarely see her at the school.

Most of the time I can’t believe in my own writing career–or rather I can’t believe I’m going to have one–and yet this student, who is very shy and often anxious, took my aspirations seriously enough to take note of the article, think of me, cut the article out, bring it to school, go out of her way to find me, and give the article to me.

That’s just nice. And it means more than she may realize.