Archive for October, 2011

Sex vs. Civics

Posted in Articles, Short Stories on October 12, 2011 by Wesley Jansen

I was not sure if I would be able to conclusively prove this or not, but I began to get the subtle notion that the 15-year-old Taiwanese boys in my Civics class were more interested in women than they were in the intricate details of the United States Constitution.

Now, I am generally not a person who likes to jump to conclusions, but the gnawing suspicion that these teenage boys were not 100% interested in the study of American government had begun to saturate my mind with uneasiness. Uneasiness compounded with the undeniable fear that they may actually be more interested in something else…yes…something even more than Civics. Even though I’ll never understand how anybody could ever find anything more interesting than Civics, I still had to allow my mind to accept the possibility that it may be true.

So, I began with a hypothesis. The hypothesis was this:

“15 year-old males [who are forced by law to spend all day in an institutionalized educational structure while subjected to nineteenth century forms of industrial discipline]…are more interested in members of the opposite sex, [namely women], than they are in the intricate details and elaborate workings of the 3-branch governmental structure of the United States.”

I had to be brave at this point and allow myself to realize what this may actually imply. If this hypothesis was tested and found to be true, then it would lead directly to the even more disturbing fact that these students may actually be under the impression that sex is more interesting and fun than a HOLT, RINEHART, and WINSTON-published Civics textbook.

(Dear reader, if this story is becoming more than you can handle at this point, please spare your own sanity and do not read further)

But, even as this disturbing possibility rattled around in my mind like a grenade about to explode, I still had to allow myself to acknowledge the even deeper implications of this dark reality. Since I have spent 7 years earning a Master’s Degree in Education under the absolute, concrete, and firm belief that nothing in all of existence is more interesting or meaningful than the priceless academic knowledge provided by HOLT, RINEHART, AND WINSTON-published textbooks, I had to face the fact that I may have wasted the youthful and flowery years of my early-to-mid 20’s (as well as thousands of tuition dollars) for nothing.

Given my hypothesis that young males are more interested in women than they are in the stimulating details of American government… and the fact that I have been on a life-long crusade to enlighten young minds with HOLT, RINEHART, AND WINSTON-published textbooks, I came to this inevitable conclusion:

“If sex really is more interesting and fun than a HOLT, RINEHART, AND WINSTON-published Civics textbook, then Wesley Jansen’s life is a complete failure” (Any logical person would reach this conclusion, and I definitely consider myself to be a logical person)

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    ARE WOMEN MORE INTERESTING THAN CIVICS?

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I had to think about it for a very long time. Had these students been hiding the fact that they all consider women to be more interesting than the subject I was teaching? It was almost too much to think about…too devastating…too painful.  I tried to push the possibility out of my mind, and I told myself that I was just being paranoid.

But after several weeks of sleepless nights, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to know the truth. And unfortunately, the truth was given to me.

One day there was an all-female school assembly going on in the main lecture hall. Knowing that these female Taiwanese students would soon be entering American Universities, the school had brought in a guest speaker who was going to give a motivational speech (and demonstration) on how Asian woman can successfully ward off the sexual advances of American male fraternity members with the simple yet effective combination of mace, a pair of pliers, and a broken coca-cola bottle.

Needless to say, I purposely kept the classroom door open because I knew there would be lots of female students walking around in the hallway.

And sure enough, just as I was about to surprise and baffle the students with the astounding fact that judiciary procedure requires a case to go through a Court of Appeals before it reaches the Supreme Court…a group of girls wearing jean-shorts walked down the hallway and past the open door of my classroom. And as they did, every single head in my all-male Civics classroom simultaneously turned counter-clockwise away from my lecture podium and toward the open door. I waited for their heads to turn simultaneously clockwise back toward my direction. When they did, an immediate and dreadfully uncomfortable silence settled over the classroom.

As I stared at the students… and as they stared back at me, I knew that the inevitable moment of truth had arrived. I put down my lecture notes and turned off the projector. The silent tension was almost too much to bear, so I decided to talk first. I gave a very stern yet honest look at my students and said this:

“Now Students! I have something very serious to ask you.  Don’t be embarrassed, and don’t try to hide it. Just be honest, and I promise I won’t be angry. Here is my question, … Are all of you more interested in women than you are in the study of the governmental infrastructure of the United States, with its 3 main branches, its amazing system of checks and balances, its historical and legal precedents, and its elaborately written yet flexible constitution?”

They all stared uneasily at their open textbooks, blushing and afraid to say anything. Finally, a student named Tommy Chang, [who had affectionately earned the nick-name, “Ding-Dong,” by half of the female students in the school], got up out of his seat and walked slowly to where I was standing. He gently put his hand on my shoulder and said:

“Dear Teacher Wesley, I am so very sorry to say this…..but….YES, we are more interested in women than we are in the intricate and elaborate workings of the governmental infrastructure of the United States, including all of its historical and legal precedents, as well as its current state of affairs and the implications of its policies on the American citizenry.”

He patted me on the shoulder, and trying to be as comforting as he could, continued…

“We wanted to tell you this a long time ago, but we were afraid that it would hurt your feelings and make you question your career. So we didn’t want to say anything.”

I became a little dizzy at this point as I began to get that dreaded feeling in the pit of my stomach…the feeling that I was about to find out the shocking and painful truth…

He continued…

“We think you have done a very good job with your lectures, but please don’t misunderstand us. I am sorry I have to say this to you Mr. Wesley,…

…but we do think that sex is more interesting and fun than the HOLT, RINEHART, AND WINSTON-published Civics textbook that you use in order to teach us… as well as the HOLT, RINEHART, AND WINSTON-published power-point lectures you use every Wednesday and Friday afternoon.”

I was devastated. The hammer had been dropped. I just couldn’t even believe that what I had feared the most had been true all along.

Even though I was shocked, sad, and downtrodden, I realized that this young man had done a very brave and noble thing by being honest with me and by telling me the truth that he and the rest of the class had a preference for beautiful girls rather than textbook-generated knowledge about the ideals of democracy and a 3-branch governmental system based on check and balances.

Even though I realized this, I could still feel the emptiness in the pit of my stomach, and I just stood there…stunned. I couldn’t even get myself to look this honest young man in the face. Throughout my entire life, I had believed that the knowledge provided by HOLT, RINEHART, and WINSTON-published textbooks was the most important and interesting thing in life. And now this belief was shattered in only a matter of seconds. I felt like my entire life had been a lie.

While staring at the tiles on the floor with a dazed expression of endless despair on my face, all I could do was give him a limp handshake and mutter…

“Thank you Mr. Ding-Dong. I appreciate your honesty.”

THE END

10 Reasons to Quit Your English Teaching Job and Leave a Country

Posted in Articles, Short Stories on October 12, 2011 by Wesley Jansen

If you are an international English teacher with a massive hard-on for adventure, one lesson you’ll eventually learn is that you cannot choose to teach English just anywhere.  There are many bad English schools out there that will do nothing but scam you.  (And of course, the world is littered with dangerous countries, cities, etc.)  In other words, shit can happen to you. 

After spending an intellectually stimulating year of personal growth and enlightenment in South Korea (ie. drinking my ass off; puking almost every weekend; accidentally destroying various forms of property; getting turned down by women from just about every country and culture; eating dog soup without realizing it; and spending an interesting evening in one of those “special” karaoke rooms dancing with 3 drunk Koreans who couldn’t speak English and a half-naked Korean hooker whose nipples could have cut glass)…I decided to “party on” by getting an English teaching job in Istanbul, Turkey.  This turned out to be a BAD FUCKING IDEA!!!

To make a long story short, I lasted less than 2 weeks there.  The school that hired me lied about my teaching hours and about pretty much everything else as well.  In addition to this, the building we had to live in (called a “lojmon”) was an extremely creepy, dormitory-style, 6-floor building in the middle of Taksim Square, which is a rather dangerous tourist area.  Without ranting further, I will just say that everything else was pretty much a big scam.  

These things considered, here is my list of ten reasons to quit your English teaching job and go back home.  If any of these things happen to you…RUN AWAY!!!

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1. The school that has employed you assigns you a co-ed place of residence in the loudest part of the city. You are almost 30 years old, but the policy of your residence hall forbids men from being on women’s floors and women from being on men’s floors. The building is old and decrepit, and the owner has irreversible mental problems.

2. You are told that some guy drank himself to death in your residence hall a few weeks before you arrived.

3. You see other westerners leave the immediate area when a group of local police pass through the street, and you are later informed that the only difference between the local police and the local mafia is that the police have uniforms.

4. On your first visit to the school, your head teacher says, “Welcome to Hell.”

5. On your first visit to the school, you meet another teacher who tells you (with a big, beaming smile of confidence on her face) that she is very strong because she “survived” one full year of teaching at the school.

*6. Upon completion of your first visit to the school, you are privately informed that the school’s head office has become aware that you have a “drinking problem.” You are also told that the only reason they know this is because the owner of your residence hall spies on the teachers who live there and reports them to the head office. You are then told that your best option is to leave your residence hall as soon as possible and find your own place.  (You are told this right before someone pick-pockets your newly purchased cell phone)

7. You would like to leave your residence hall and find your own place, but you meet other western teachers who are willing to sleep in other people’s hallways in order to avoid getting scammed by local landlords.

8. You tell your new students that you taught English in South Korea last year, and they predict that you will probably want to go back there in about 2 months.

9. You become so used to the school lying to you about your contract, your teaching hours, and your living conditions that you become slightly nervous whenever you suspect that they might be telling you the truth about something.

and finally…

10. You are walking up the long, narrow, spiral stairway of your 6-floor residence hall with a couple of your fellow teachers. One of them is holding onto the thick wooden rail leading up the stairs when suddenly a large chunk of it comes off in her hand. You all laugh gleefully at the incident…but deep down you start to wish that you had a hard hat, a rope, and a degree in archaeology…because you get that uncomfortable, instinctive feeling that if you stand in the wrong place of your residence hall, you will crash through several floors and layers of earth only to find yourself in a deep, dark, underground labyrinth full of dead teachers who used to work for the school at which you are now currently employed.

*A further note about #6:

I still consider number 6 to be a point of contention. What does “drinking problem” really mean, anyway? The phrase, “drinking problem,” means so many different things to so many different people. I was accused of having a “drinking problem,” but they never gave me their definition of what they consider a “drinking problem” to be. I remember that night very well, and I didn’t have ANY problem drinking my 17 beers.

And…just because I drank 17 beers, went back to my residence hall, walked up the stairs, and urinated off the 6th floor balcony onto the street accidentally hitting a group of angry-looking rival Turkish gangsters which in turn caused an amazing chain-reaction of events that resulted in two gun-fights, three massive street brawls, a few burning buildings, a small riot, four people dead, and numerous others permanently injured…is still no reason to get all upset about things. I mean, we all make mistakes sometimes, right? (Well, just replace the words “we all” with the word “I” and the word “sometimes” with the word “repeatedly.”) But either way, it’s no use crying over spilt milk. Whatever happened to “Forgive and Forget?” I forgave myself for the incident, and I’m willing to forget about it…so why won’t the Turkish community?

I guess some people just can’t let go of the past.