Archive for the ‘Kids say the darndest things’ Category

The students at school are currently working on composing biographies. One 10-year-old, being a keen dancer, is researching the life of a famous ballerina.

Student: It says she died from pleasuring. What does that mean?

[The teacher and I exchange puzzled and concerned glances.]

Me: Ummm…wait…what?

Pleurisy. Because the illustration for the other “pl” word would probably be NSFW.

Student: Shall I look it up? [She’s already entered the phrase “meaning of pleasuring” in the search bar on her computer. Her hand descends towards the Enter button.]

Teacher and me in unison: NOOOOO!

Me: [frantically erasing the search] Let me just check that for you… [I type in a new search term. The first website I go to gives the person’s date of death, but not the cause.]

Teacher: [whispering] I know we tell them not to, but…just go to Wikipedia.

Me: [skim reads the article]. Pleurisy! It says she died of pleurisy.



(Words, people. Please use them responsibly.)




The lesson for today’s class of nine and ten year olds was on working together constructively in a team. The task was to work in small groups to research and present a short report on a leader from history. My job as classroom aide was to assign a famous name to each group while the teacher helped the students get organized.
One child really wanted to research Mahatma Gandhi, a second liked the sound of George Washington, and a third was keen for Adolf Hitler. Reasonable requests, I thought, and for the rest I randomly chose Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan.

What could possibly go wrong?

Looking at the causes of death, a disturbing trend emerges. Abraham Lincoln – assassinated. Julius Caesar – assassinated. Mahatma Gandhi – assassinated. Adolf Hitler, a man responsible for countless atrocities and the death of millions and thus arguably the person on this list most deserving of murder, managed to avoid numerous rumoured attempts at assassination only to shoot himself in an underground bunker.

And as for Genghis Khan…

Mercifully, the boy chosen as reporter for the group working on Genghis Khan was still developing his public speaking skills; he held his book up in front of his face, so I couldn’t hear from the back of the room what he was saying. The kids at the front of the room couldn’t hear what he was saying either. But from the mounting look of horror on the teacher’s face, she could hear only too well.

“Umm…yes, you’ve done some good research there, but perhaps we don’t need to go into quite so much graphic detail…”

Later she told me what they’d found out about Genghis Khan. Apparently it revolved around his wartime exploits, the dismemberment of his enemies, and in particular the removal of their “man parts”.

I’m guessing that next time, I won’t be the one handing out names. But if I do, I’m going with Queen Victoria – died in her bed aged 82, and famous (albeit erroneously) for covering up piano legs.

9.30am. I’ve been at work for half an hour before one of the kids points out that my name badge is upside down. First lesson of the day – even adults can make some really basic mistakes.

By Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons* * *

I bend to tie up a boy’s shoe laces as he heads out to recess. I’ve been tying laces at this school for nearly five years now, but only recently has it been pointed out to me that those laces have probably been dragged across a pee-soaked bathroom floor a few times today. I remember this fact, shrug, and keep tying – that’s what hand sanitizer is for, right?

* * *

I break up a permanent marker play fight during art class. One of the combatants emerges from the bathroom.
“It won’t come off!” he says, pointing to his black-striped face.
“Yes,” I say. “That’s what ‘permanent’ means. It’s also what we call ‘natural consequences’.”

* * *By Leon Brooks [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lunchtime yard duty at the sandpit. I take a child aside because the other kids have complained about his spitting in the hole they’ve dug.
“We don’t spit at this school,” I say. “Do you know why we don’t spit?”
He nods. “Because it might hurt the crabs,” he says.
After a second or two of thinking, “???”, I put it together. We’re in the sand, there’s a hole, therefore there must be crabs…makes perfect sense.

* * *

Another child has to be removed from the sandpit, this time for pushing a smaller kid around. He is content to just stand and watch the others play, and while doing so he reaches up to hold my hand. I feel a nudge on my arm, and look down to find him wiping his nose on my sleeve. Pee, spit – this just completes the trifecta.

* * *

Using flashcards, I’m testing a child on her sight recognition of some of the most commonly used words in English. She’s doing well on the test – until we come to the word ‘decided’.
“Decapitated?” she says.
I give her The Look – the one that says, perhaps you should reconsider that. “Do you really think we’d test you on the word ‘decapitated’?” I say. She looks confused. “Wait – do you know what it means?” She shakes her head. “It means to get your head chopped off!”
And she laughs. And so do I. And in my head, I question whether it’s entirely appropriate to be laughing about decapitation in a primary school classroom (the answer – probably not).

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons* * *

I’m assisting a class to complete a maths worksheet on fractions. One boy kneels on his seat and crows, “I’m finished! I’m awesome!” I check his work.
“Well, yes, you are awesome,” I say, “but your number line – not so much. It’s meant to be a straight line, not a wavy one.” I show him examples of other children’s number lines, and he flicks his hand through the air in a dismissive gesture as if to say, “Straight, schmaight.”
I help him to correct it. Creativity is important in education, but so are ruler skills.

* * *

7.00pm at home. You know that thing you do with little kids when you offer them two choices, one choice being the thing you want them to do and the other being an unpalatable option, the aim being to get them to do the right thing while letting them think they’ve come to that decision on their own? Well, I’m doing that.
“It’s dinner time. The rule is you don’t hang around the table at dinner time. You have two choices – go sit on your bed, or go outside in the cold.”
Belatedly, I realize that this approach is not going to work in this situation. For one thing, I don’t think our new foster dog has understood a word I’ve said.