In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably state for the record that I have never been employed as a substitute teacher – although I have been assured by my esteemed colleague (who, if you haven’t guessed by now, has indeed spent time shaping young minds in the bowels of the public school system) that the above story is something that, if not true, certainly should be.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I have never had the opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge with the next generation.

It has been years now, but whenever the weather just starts to get warm, I can feel it in my bones:  a reminder.

Summer 2000.  I was gainfully employed as a student teacher, assigned to a class of third and fourth-graders who were learning, ostensibly, about journalism.  But while I was the teacher, in reality, I was but the student.

And their lesson?  Their lesson was quite simple:  you may be older and wiser, but we are in charge.

The curriculum consisted of yelling, running around, and the poking and prodding of one’s neighbor (doubly so if they happened to be of a different gender).  This behavior would continue until the other student teacher came in, and with a look, she would bring order to the chaos.

“You just have to know how to deal with them,” she told me.

The vague nature of her supposed “help” notwithstanding, I never quite got the hang of kid wrangling.  Some of the students offered that I was too “nice” to them, which is why they took delight in ignoring all suggestions that they sit back down at their own desks.

Being too nice is not something Ninja would ever be accused of. He obviously comes from a different school of thought than I when it comes to discipline.

I shudder to think about what he would have done in my stead all those years ago.  Would he have unsheathed sword, as he does here, and make an example of one of the children?  Or would he, too, lose control of the classroom?

Something tells me that he “knows” how to handle them.

Whatever that means.



Well, I was a substitute teacher.  Maybe I still am, but that’s beside the point.  Much of this is based on my experience as a seasoned substitute teacher, not that I’ve ever cut a kid’s hand off.  No.  More in that kids these days are always calling things gay, even if said thing could not possibly have any sexual orientation.  How can a leotard be gay?  How can homework be gay?  How can an exam be gay?  There are no opposing genders for such things, and even if they were, those things don’t have any sexual desire to be with another of the same gender.

At it’s very best it’s an improper use of the adjective, and at it’s worse it’s an insult to millions of people’s sexual identity.  I promise that I won’t cut off anyone’s hand, but calling things gay as a synonym for stupid or crappy is….leotarded (special thanks to Dan Savage for such inspiration).