Laughter: Teacher tales


Christopher Song

From classroom antics to wildlife, the stories told by teachers can cover anything.

In this feature of Special Report’s package “What makes us laugh?”, titled “Teacher tales,” English teacher David Clarke tells the story of how he kept a student in the closet. Then, biology teacher Pamela Chow gives the account of a masochistic peacock.

0:16 — Clarke: “Who’s going to break first? … Not me.”

So once, actually, I was in this class and they had this Sustained Silent Reading, SSR, that they used to do at the beginning of every class. And so they’re doing that, and you never knew what was going to happen when they did that — but these kids were just really silent. Yeah, it’s going great. And I’m not sure exactly why it’s going great. This is ridiculous, it’s not supposed to happen like this. They’re all looking down, but I can tell that they’re not really reading when they’re looking down, but they’re trying to act like they’re reading. And I hear this kind of noise over in the corner, coming from the closet, and it sounds like there’s rats in the closet, sort of scratching or something like that. I realize what it is, is one of the kids — because there’s an empty desk — there’s one of the kids hiding in the closet; and so what they’re expecting of course is that I get all upset and [say,] “Bleh!” and pull the kid out of there, and everybody laughs and then the whole class just goes to hell.

But I realized, “So I can’t do that.” And the other thing about it, and just being not always such a nice guy, is I realize the closet is probably a little small for him: So he can’t quite stand up but he can’t quite sit down either, so he’s getting really uncomfortable in there. And, well, he kind of deserves it too. All the kids, they’re waiting for me to do something, and they’re waiting for me to do something, and they’re waiting for me to do something. And I just ignore ’em, and I ignore the kid in the closet. It’s like, who’s going to break first? And it’s not going to be me.

So eventually one of the kids just snaps and says, “Well, where’s Joe?” I kind of look around, and he’s not over in his seat, and [I] say, “Oh, he’s in the closet over there.” Their faces all just completely fall, because they expect that I’m going to go off — and Joe, he opens up and he’s all hunched over like this old person, and he kind of slumps back to his seat, and I had him for the rest of the class. I got him. And it didn’t always happen, but that was one time actually where I beat him. So there you go.

2:41 — Chow: “A peacock fighting with a car”

So [in] the city that I’m from, Arcadia, there are actually a lot of peacocks running around, which is always kind of interesting to behold. And so we have adventures, I guess you could say — my family has had adventures with peacocks that others don’t have. My mom was actually telling me not too long ago that whenever she washes her car, there’s this peacock that likes to admire himself in the car; he looks at himself and turns around and whatnot.

Unfortunately, the peacock also thinks that he’s looking at another peacock, so he starts to try to pick a fight with the peacock. And so my mom’s car actually got dings on it because this peacock is starting to try to attack itself when looking at its own reflection. Usually people find that kind of amusing because you don’t imagine a peacock fighting with a car.