Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Heckler

I sometimes teach an ESL class at this place downtown. It's a great place and I love ESL so it's fun to do. This time I was teaching some vocab and then we'd play a game afterward. We were talking about food and i was telling them about traditional food for holidays. Well, it was going fine except we had a bit of a heckler in class that day. I had never seen her before but it's an open class so I often don't recognize people. Anyway, so she kept interrupting to give cmoments, which I'm all for, but it was with sort of an aggressive tone. It was weird. It was like she was contesting or challenging everything I said and she would interject, whereupon I would listen and then try to clarify in a nice way. But it got awkward when she kept doing it and it turned into this one-on-one thing where i'd finally just have to give up trying to explain and say, " that's a good point.." and move on.

Anyway, the best part though was as I was describing traditional Thanksgiving food, she jumped in and said, "but what is the story of Thanksgiving? Where does it come from?"

But it wasn't like she was just curious. Her manner wasn't pleasant. And, ok, so I am not a historian but I said something like, "Well, I think the British settlers got together with the Indians and they had a big feast, everyone contributing food, sort of as a peace offering or something." Ok, i don't really know. That could just be the story they tell you in 3rd grade, or maybe I completely made it up. But she then said, "and THEN what happened?" Again, not just out of curiosity. It was like she was trying to get me to say something. I stood there questioning the scene and the thought entered my mind: you know what? I'm actually not trying to hide or cover up anything.

And so I just decided to come right out and say, "I don't know. Then they killed all the Indians," and the girl nodded and said "yes." HA! Can you believe it? So weird. I was like, what is going on? Do you hate America? Do you hate me? And then she left a few minutes later. Standing up there, I didn't give it much thought and just kept right on rolling. But later I was like, wow did that really happen? How awesome is that. After I said they killed all the Indians I said to the rest of the class, "it's true.. that's what happened. I mean.. it did." and sort of shrugged. I mean, what was I going to do/say? And then i said, "But anyway, so what we do now is get together with family and friends, have a big meal together, and talk about all the things we're thankful for..." and everyone [else] was happy with that answer, and to move on.

Classic. Thanks sister Heckler, for being weird and making everyone feel uncomfortable, but for adding some controversy to the class. :)

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