No, Who’s On First?

29 Nov

My son called today. He’s also a teacher and he remarked that he’d had an Abbot and Costello moment in his class. One of his students asked what the definition of conjecture was…and my son replied, “Guess!”

You can probably imagine what happened after that. When you’re a teacher you never know when that moment will strike. Hopefully it’s amusing to everyone and then the class moves on but when you’re a teacher you always have to be very careful about what and how you say things…and never make a comment or start a conversation that you’re not prepared to follow through to its conclusion, wherever it may lead…

One day in class I matter-of-factly said to one of my students who was just acting a little too ditzy for my liking, “Jan, you’re a hockey puck!”

“I’m not a hockey puck” she replied rather confusedly.

“No, I said. I don’t mean that you’re actually a hockey puck. It’s an expression. You know you’re acting like such an airhead that your parents must have played hockey when you were little and they used you as the hockey puck and so now that’s why you’re so dizzy.”

“Well that’s pretty silly Mr. Picone. Jan replied. My parents don’t play hockey.”

“No Fran, I tried to explain. No one played hockey. It’s just an expression.”

“But my parents don’t play hockey! Why would you say that they did? They don’t play hockey. They never play hockey.”

“Jan! I interrupted. It’s just something that Don Rickles would always say. He’s a comedian and he calls people hockey pucks when he wants to make fun of them. I was just trying to be funny that’s all. I was kidding.”

”Ohhhhhhhh, said Jan. I know Don Rickles.”

Finally I’d gotten through to her. She’d recognized my reference to an old comedian who was popular when I was in school. At least now  we could get on with the lesson…

Unfortunately she added, ”He lives in my neighborhood.”

“What?! I just had to ask. Could this be possible? Now I was getting confused…

Don Rickles lives in your neighborhood?”

“Of course, she said matter of factly. I think he’s a sophomore.”

I gave up…“Jan? You ARE a hockey puck!”

Mr. Pi-Co-Own” She had to have the last word (and I’d let her just so we could move along) How many times do I have to tell you? I don’t play hockey!”

One of the things that can make being a teacher so difficult is that sometimes no matter how hard you try; you just cannot reach your students.

8 Responses to “No, Who’s On First?”

  1. athenahm November 29, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    One day, she will look back on that conversation and laugh heartily, and so will any other student who witnessed it. Sometimes lessons take longer to learn than they do to teach.

  2. Michelle Frost November 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    A couple of weeks ago I was taking a picture of my boyfriend’s 3 year old son. He was hamming it up a little so I asked if he was a ham. He replied, “I’m not a ham, I’m a boy.” Granted, at three he can’t be expected to understand the nuances of the english language yet… but I think that even older kids and adults take things TOO literally at times, and that is why they never “get it.”

  3. WordsFallFromMyEyes November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    An Abbott & Costello moment I tottally get. Glad your son is so in touch… Great post 🙂

    • francisguenette November 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

      Maybe it was a teachable moment to explore times when language is taken literally and how, at other times, language is used for different purposes. While I read your post, I remembered the time I told a young student, in an obvious tone of exasperation, “I better not see you in this classroom wearing those boots again.” He replied, “Well, you better not look then.” This comment was not delivered in the tone of a smart aleck kid – just common sense.

  4. lovelifelaundry November 30, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    You’ve just got to love all the hockey pucks. They brighten any day

  5. michellecheong December 1, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    What an amusing post! I liked it. Just the day I was telling my son that he drove me up the wall and he replied, “How could you? You’re not Spiderman”.

  6. mariposa333 December 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Thank you for liking my blog post! That’s funny because we are studing book series and I am sharing with my stduents one of my favorites: Amelia Bedelia. Boy did she take everything literally! Talk about dress up the turkey! So, her books have become a teachable resource. My co-teacher and I joke how we have to be careful when we say: “We are going to push you till you get it!” Now, we say “challenge you!’

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