Sexuel (Saturday, 2012 Feburary 11)

February 11, 2012

"Monsieur!" my Terminale students shouted as I entered the room. "Have you heard? The lycée is sexuel!"

That’s the first and best introduction I got to the scandal at the lycée. Apparently a student walked into the proviseur’s office to find him seated with a female student on one of his two sofas. It’s not clear what the two were doing that alarmed the interloper, but now the story is that he’s been picking up (draguer) students ("as early as 2e", Brondon says, "or even 3e, if it’s an older girl"). An impromptu rassemblement was arranged so that these rumors could be properly quelled. The girl who walked in wasn’t able to name an exact date in full public view of the whole school, so obviously she’s making it up or whatever and certainly not being railroaded.

Madame Ann, the orange lady at the school, had been trying to encourage me to "leave with" Dulisse, one of my smarter students in 1ere. It’s not good, I kept saying, for a teacher to hook up with his students. This whole affair’s been helpful in making that point clear. Madame Ann’s take on this has been 1. "Is he even capable of that kind of activity?" (Our proviseur is beginning to show his age.) and 2. "Obviously that sort of thing happens but I have a hard time imagining that a man of his cunning would use his office instead of just going to a hotel in Bafoussam. I mean, the man has a car."

This is Youth Week so I didn’t have class Friday, instead being obligated to go to a matinée culturelle where the youth of our village presented whatever stupid bullshit they do, mostly dances and a few skits. Also, "interpretations", which are straight-up lip syncing performances. It is traditional for people to show their appreciation for these acts with money, either collected in a basket or rubbed on the forehead in a manner suggestive of wiping off sweat. Some of the acts were enjoyable in one way or another — I especially liked the dance number set to "Le Prince Charmant", starring a girl who exuded the kind of confidence you get from being the prettiest girl in an 800-person high school — but mostly it went on too long. One thing that always squicks me about this type of event is the gyrations that the kids do. It’s not just the underage girls, but sometimes even the underage boys. My feeling is that if you’re too young to need a bra, you’re certainly too young to need sparkly bra straps. Sexuel indeed. I’ll try to upload videos of the whole spectacle when I next get my hands on some decent Internet.

The kids in the lab have been pretty well-behaved lately, not sure if it was the threat to their game time or the threat of violence. I also suggested that if they didn’t shape up I would delete GTA, then destroy all the computers, burn them and then pee-pee on the ashes. For one reason or another they’ve started to "take conscience" and they are either trying to develop moral sensibility or pretending really hard. Last Wednesday a good number of them told me I shouldn’t open the door to the lab at all because of how unorderly they were being, and then one of them had the idea that I should open the door, then go inside the lab and close it and let in students one at a time.

So the students are starting to manage themselves. One of them even stood at the door and tried to control the crush of students, letting them pass one by one until he just gave up and ran to a computer. I kind of like seeing this sort of thing, but I never know if a given student is bossing people around just because he can, or trying to get a monopoly on the good computers for him and his friends, or what. (Smart money says they’re not doing it out of a sense of duty or fairness.) I guess they’re not really sure either, and this is all part of their development into a capable and informed citizenry.

As for beating the kids, one thing happened that made me regret ever raising a hand: in all this self-discipline discovery, one of my favorite little kids, André, was trying to get some kids out of the lab during class hours. His threats and pleas fell on deaf ears. So what did he do? He went for the stick, the same stick I used just a week or two ago. Really drove home the idea that I’m modeling behavior for these kids. Then again, Kalika writes that they like hitting each other so maybe it’s no big deal. Another time in lab, one of my Terminales was getting jostled by littler kids on the same bench, and without skipping a beat he turned around and said "I’m gonna break your head, eh?"

Haven’t been writing much, mostly due to lack of time. I have a report to write on what I’ve been doing the last four months (teaching, you goofballs!) and I should probably be writing tests. Mostly I’ve been in the lab, working with the three or four students who actually want to learn something. Home stretch..

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