6 Things School Didn’t Teach

It will undoubtedly surprise you to hear that there are numerous things I don’t know…in fact, I would go to say that I don’t know many things at all. So yeah, I don’t know most things. That much is true, at least I know that.

When looking for someone or something to blame (rather than just accepting I am a brain-dead oaf, or lazy slacker), I have landed on school as my main source of ignorance to date…

So with that in mind, here are six classes and six lessons that I wish school had taught me…

1. Social Science: Making excuses for being late:

Late Legolas GIF

Oh yeah, great idea! Teach me all about how alcohol, drugs and sex will turn me into a hollow husk of a human devoid of any and all trace of hope – but neglect to teach me how to make even the most basic of excuses! Clearly this has a profound impact on every single day of your adult life…and is something which should be taught in schools from a young age.

Less is more, remember that. So claiming you were late to your best friend’s wedding because you are actually an elf who had to assist in a battle against the hordes of evil who threatened to enslave all of Middle Earth…his new wife included – is probably a little too much. You should go for nothing too ridiculous, but also something they can’t argue against for fear of looking like a horrible person; so maybe you helped a blind person across the road, or you helped a crying child find his lost mother, or you have diahorrea (no one ever contests that).

You could always try the truth I suppose: “I am late because I really don’t want to be here, and was honestly hoping to cancel but couldn’t come up with a good enough reason. Also I hate your face, it grosses me out.” Although it should go without saying that use of this method should be attempted sparingly, and with extreme caution.  

2. Languages: How to talk to people without looking weird:

Austin Creep GIF

It’s taken for granted that we will just magically pick up these skills as we go along, thatching together what we think is a presentable personality and manner, but really having no clue at all. Like how much grunting and hair smelling is acceptable around strangers? No one ever told me!

I, like everyone else – just do my best with severely limited proficiency…there’s a lot of smiling and nodding…a lot of “haha, yeah”s, and even more deafening silence – that is until I can’t take the charade any longer and decide to let loose. Aka: be myself…and it is in that moment that I am considered weird – ah well.

Oh, and there would also have to be a module on oversharing, and how it is something that is best avoided…I mean, just because it is happening to you doesn’t mean you need to tell the whole universe about it…we get it you are at the zoo, we get it you really don’t like cranberry sauce, we get it you are an attention seeking drama-queen intent on boring the entire global population to death – jheeez.

3. Geography: How to locate and deal with a knobhead:

Bieber GIF

I like maps, erosion, and sediment charts as much as everyone else! But to be honest there are more pressing and more problematic problems we must contend with! And they are more often not fuelled by knobheads…or assholes, dickheads, douchebags, mean poo-poo heads – whatever you want to call them! So if there were some way in which we could locate such people then we would all save a lot of time and heartache in the process…

It sounds a little too Nazi for most people, but perhaps some kind of badge or brand could be applied? Then it would make it easier to locate those who are up to no good…so we’d know not to hire that guy to fix your dear old grandmother’s sink who will inevitably try to steal money from her purse (he has the knobhead brand on his forehead after all) – and we’d take on the guy without it instead. We wouldn’t get in the relationship with the serial cheater, or mistakenly go on a date with a violent racist…we would actually see a lot less of the annoyance on social media too…

With that said, any school who was to teach this…yeah, shut that thing down immediately. I don’t want to be responsible for Hitler mark II.

4. Physical Education: Movie style fight scenes:

Matrix GIF

It is everyone’s dream to enter into a Fist of Fury type of altercation…where you go all Matrix on the bad guys and pull off an amazing Mortal Kombat type of finisher that has everyone in awe…

But the sad reality is that normal people don’t get much practice beating people to death in unusual and fascinating ways…largely because they are law-abiding citizens who are just trying to get to work, pay into a pension, or get to Starbucks before it is too busy. So it’s the criminals who get all the practice, hence why they are so damn good at it!

But the world is quite a horrendous place at the best of times, and many people are rightly scared…however if there was even the most basic self defense class taught in schools people would stand a better chance defeating those which disgrace humanity; muggers, rapists, and people asking if you want to do a survey.

5. English: When and where swearing is applicable:

Peep Show Fuck Off GIF

I find it rather odd that schools come down so heavy on swearing as far as I can remember…but are so dogmatic when it comes to doing monotonous and drab lessons that demand the use of such language – it’s almost like a test in itself; which one will say “fuck this shit!” first? Hmmm…double maths and then a chemistry lesson, yeah let’s really mess with him!

Personally I think language is just a collection of words. And words can have many different meanings, and it is really how you use it rather than what exactly you are saying – just go to any English football game and watch tearful men with shaven heads screaming “you beautiful cunt!” at a player who has just netted a hat-trick for their team…are they trying to ridicule and humiliate him? I don’t think so.

So I guess what I’m saying is that swearing is okay most of the time! It adds spice and humour – enthusiasm and passion; and I didn’t really need school to fucking teach me that. (Perhaps refrain a little around your mother, kids, and old ladies – don’t be the aforementioned knobhead).

6. Mathematics: Removing yourself from awkward equations: 

OutcheaGIF

My struggle with mathematics is well documented – and continues to be a great source of difficulty. Well actually no, it would be if everything wasn’t automated, and done through electronics these days…

“John you won’t always have a calculator with you, you know?!” Well, how wrong you were Mrs. Martin! Even if I am a little bit sorry that I didn’t pay more attention…

Anyway, the lack of ability in coping with awkward situations is much more detrimental to our mental health and quality of life than algebra and long division ever will be. That guy at the bus stop asking which type of cheese is best to put in your bath…the stranger massaging your back out of the blue on the subway…or when a kid asks you where babies come from – all of these and more are a constant struggle. And one which I still feel ill-equipped to deal with at all…if only there had been a lesson to steer me in the right direction…

And that’s it! My top six things I wish school had taught me! But what do you think?  Is there anything I missed?

Oh, and if anyone has tips regarding the above I would be very thankful – if someone doesn’t point me in the right direction I am likely to be a fool all my life…cheers in advance!

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Arguments with Children

Arguments with children…I don’t know why I even allow myself to be suckered in – EVERY SINGLE TIME. Perhaps it’s some kind of vague ambition to truly educate, and make a difference…so that years in the future the now fully grown child reminisces and admits:

“He was right! I’m so thankful he steered me in the right direction at such a young age…I will have to find him and give him renumeration in the form of a cash lump sum…after all I am now a billionaire thanks to him!” 

Or you know, words to that effect. Basically I think there is a rather paternal instinct present in me which seeks to sculpt young minds in a positive way; perhaps impart some wisdom accrued from experience, and whatever else…I’m not saying I’m Yoda (after all my face doesn’t quite resemble a ballbag to the same degree), but I am certainly living with the belief I can create more Jedis than Sith…

Yoda GIF

Yeah…what he said!

But it’s not as easy as all that. There are always curveballs with children – you can’t ever take anything for granted, you can never just assume ANYTHING; how did you get ice cream in your eyeball? Why did you put my sunglasses in the toilet? Why are you about to jump out of the window? Why did you…well the list is infinite, so I’ll  stop right there – hopefully you get the picture, which is that they are little maniacs at the best of time.

So how do you try and teach life lessons to those who would rather discuss smelly socks? Well with great difficulty, obviously.That doesn’t stop be from trying though, although it probably should – you see I have already had two separate arguments this week, each lacking in logic of any kind – but both ending in myself being ridiculed, and jeered for being an absolute moron (바보).

I had initially estimated both scenarios to be sterling opportunities to give some important guidance to the younger generation; the first being of the utmost importance (the plot of The Lion King), and the second a lot less pressing but still kind of necessary I suppose…(where babies come from)…

Eager GIF

Concerning The Lion King, we were looking at animals in my kindergarten class…and then having a bit of a debate about which animals we liked, and which we didn’t – some people were big fans of snakes, some enjoyed gorillas, others tigers…it was an all-inclusive zoofest up in that classroom! Until I chimed in…“My favourite is the lion! He’s the king of the animals!”cue tumbleweed, and bitter stares…should go without saying I immediately regretted voicing my stupid opinion.

“NO. LION NOT GOOD.” barked the entire population of the class…well, I was a little taken aback – but I reinforced my reasons which I felt were legitmate – “NO! NO! LION NO KING.” 

I calmly asked them if they had ever watched the film The Lion King – they all nodded that they had – “you see…the film is called ‘The Lion King’ – because the lion…is the king!” I thought that I had put it across in a simple enough way, that the kids could surely rec – “NO JOHN TEACHER, LION NO KING!”

I should have just left it. I should have…I know I should have, but I didn’t. I lost my cool – “RIGHT…in the film there is a big lion, yes? And he is the king. The film is called ‘THE LION KING’ – because he is THE LION, KING! THE LION IS THE KING OF THE ANIMALS!” they glared back at me, all four of them…until someone broke the silence; “the monkey is king. Grandfather king.” – everyone began to agree, and nod frantically before suddenly breaking into laughter, and sarcastically patting me on the back as if to say “you were wrong, but never mind.”

YOU SERIOUSLY CAN’T REASON WITH THAT SMUG LOT.

Shocked GIF

The second argument came around today. And started off when for some bizarre reason a young boy asked me if I would rather have rabbits, or a rabbit. You get used to these seemingly inane questions when teaching kindergarten – and I find myself just answering without much hesitation or thought; “RABBIT! Just one…” As always with kids I was asked why, and I gave my reasoning which was that rabbits together have so many rabbit babies, and it can be like a mad house! Such a horribly boring adultish response, man I hate myself for even coming out with it, but nevermind.

“JOHHHHHNNN TEEEEEAAAACHER! SILLY, SILLY!” he crowed, in an imitation of the voice I use when they make a spelling mistake, or drop their snack on the floor. “BOY RABBIT, GIRL RABBIT OKAY! HAHA – JOHNNNN TEEEEAAAACHHHHERRR!” 

He went on to explain in detail how stupid I was, and why I was wrong in every way possible – I was under the false impression that daddy rabbits and mammy rabbits fall in love and then babies are dropped off by the stork, or whatever – but Daniel educated me in the truth and totally opened my eyes to the fact that rabbits are only trouble when you have the boys together – that’s how you get babies after all…

“But Daniel…you have a Mommy, and a Daddy…where did you come from?”

Ron Confused GIF

His mouth fell open a little, and his eyes peered around in confusion…as I waited patiently for the penny to eventually drop. But it didn’t. 

Instead he shook his head and yelled…“JOHNNNN TEEEEACHER, SILLY, SILLY”…and wandered off to get his chocolate milk, whilst chuckling to himself.

There’s always next time…one day…one day…

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Happiness – What Could Have Been…

I am fascinated with life, and the idea of each and every person having their own pathway on which they follow… 

It’s not that I believe in fate, or that I think we have any kind of predetermined outcome by some fella upstairs…instead I think of us as paving our own way – desperately struggling to lay the yellow bricks in front of us as we attempt to navigate through our lives. Sometimes we stumble across good eggs like Scarecrow, Tim Woodman, and Cowardly Lion – and then occasionally there are sadistic witches and flying killer monkeys who rip off all of your limbs…

Wizard of OZ GIF

Swings, and roundabouts I suppose…

 I mean granted not everything can be cheese, back rubs, and new posts from Storytime with John, right? There are shitty moments too – it’s just all about finding those happy moments, and treasuring them, whilst also trying to derive some purpose from our small window of life (wherever, and however that may be!); after all we all want to be happy!

But you know what? I have some rather backward advice (which just so happens to work!) when it comes to being happier with your present situation…it’s not particularly to look at the things that you are lucky enough to possess; a loving family? A great set of friends? A job you actually enjoy? A really comfortable pair of socks? Whatever! No. 

Although naturally…good for you – especially the socks thing.

But I do find that spending some time considering what could have been (for the worst), really helps pump you up, and give a greater perspective on your life as a whole. It’s basically like you are looking backwards down the yellow brick road, and viewing the different paths that you see were no available…but you didn’t take. And as you are older, and hopefully a smidge wiser you now see they would have led to doom and gloom. I find this gives confidence in going forward…PUMP UP DAT CHEST, BRUH! 

Judge GIF

For me I look back at past relationships that would have anchored me to one spot…limited me…and kept me in a closed community, with a minimal amount of opportunity – so I look back at that, and then examine the present day…and I feel more positive about meekly edging forward. Or perhaps I peer pack down the yellow brick road again, and see friendship circles centered solely around drinking, drugs, and a lack of ambition…then again I look at the now…and feel a stronger person for being where I am today.

If I had made certain other choices, my reality would be totally different. 

I could of course ramble more about this for a lot longer, but it wouldn’t make much sense to you…after all life isn’t always a cohesive narrative, it is actually a very personal story which is only ever reported as a polished epilogue – one with which we can perhaps relate, but never truly experience – each of us walk in our own shoes, on our own path. 

But just try it, look back and see where your life could have taken you…not for the better, but for the worse…it should bring a wry smile to your face – and hopefully more faith in yourself, and your future…

Spiderpunch GIF

You’ve got this my friend!

(This post is dedicated to my very good friend over at Pixelated Lifestyle – keep going, just keep going…oh and watch out for the flying monkeys.)

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Lost Child

Gotta tell you this one real quick…it’s a story I was told just yesterday – drama central over here trust me!

So there’s a larger school near the kindergarten I work at…and the parents are up in arms at the moment – full pitchfork and flaming torches kinda deal (well you know, metaphorically!) …news travels fast here with a dedicated community of Mothers in place to spread stories, as and when necessary! And boyyyy, is it necessary!

Crowd GIF

Usually such upset is over trivial matters…but the latest is pretty ridiculous I have to admit, and the uproar levels are definitely justified; let me cut to the chase…one of the students (five years old I think) was on the school bus home…when he decided to have a little snooze! I mean, there’s nothing better right? You wake up, and you are at your destination! Perfect! 

Ingeniously he decided to stretch out over a couple of chairs for maximum comfort! And slowly but surely the bus made its way around the student’s homes…and before long there was no one in it ! Apart from the driver, and that little sleeping chap in the back of course…

Well the driver wasn’t the most screwed on fella in the world (it seems) – because he eventually finished his usual route, did one little look back and saw no one…so then proceeded to drive the bus to the school’s shelter and head on out into the night! Naturally an hour or so later the boy woke up to nothing but darkness, wondering just where the hell he was!

Confession GIF

Thankfully the door of the bus was open – so the petrified boy was able to free himself from his prison…but that only meant he was in a strange place, with no idea how to get home. It’s basically the kindergarten version of The Shawshank Redemption. Poor lad. So all he had left in his arsenal was to wander these unfamiliar streets, whilst crying out loud. This went on for an hour or so apparently.

Finally the police asked him what the hell was going on. Or words to that effect I imagine! And were able to get in touch with his parents…who were freaking out. Like Drake getting kissed by Madonna levels of freaking out. 

Anyway, important info is – he’s coming to our school now! Feels kind of intriguing, he has an air of something about him…he is the boy who lived! Not quite Harry Potter, but definitely someone with a story to tell…just think of the things he must have seen on that detour of his! The bus seats…the pavement…the…well okay, it’s bland when I put it like that!

Awkward MIley GIF

But come on! HARRY POTTER IS COMING TO OUR SCHOOL! REJOICE!

In unrelated news, we now have a strict seat-belt policy for the kids, and a final check procedure when the bus is finishing its route. But as I say…totally unrelated. 

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Korean Language Learning

It’s going really well…

Grin

Okay John, FOCUS…FOCUS…

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Nike – Just Do…

I don’t know who makes all of the t-shirts in Korea...but there are some bad products out there! Bad is an understatement – there are some AWFUL products out there! Actually, I don’t even know where to begin! Sometimes they are just harmless errors, or sometimes the English doesn’t make sense at all- but occasionally the English sentence is just down-right woeful!

I have no idea who who checks the grammar, or perhaps it doesn’t even matter in people’s minds…but for some reason I reckon the old lady with ‘SEX GIRLS ONLY’ written on her cap would probably have a minor heart attack – if someone where to tell her!

Cringe Host GIF

The best example, (and by best I mean worst!) I can give is this particular instance…you see I was walking around a shopping mall, when a little girl ran into me all of a sudden – this surprised her for a second (and me too!) but then she toddled off someplace else, the image of her stayed with me though. You see she was wearing a t-shirt that was meant to be an imitation of a style one…you know their famous marketing phrase – ‘JUST DO IT!’ Which is supposed to excite people, and tells them they should always try hard, take risks – and do their utmost in every task! Quite inspiring! Right?

Well yes, I certainly think so!

But the imitation t-shirt was just that, And so it wasn’t exactly like the original…it was the same colour, and it had the style tick design…the same type of font for the lettering…but instead of ‘JUST DO IT!’ it read…

‘JUST DO ME!

Which errr, yeah…means something completely different…

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Boring, and Bored!

I’ve been asked to provide five possible short stories, which display language errors – for a Korean made English language book – I suppose the aim is to point out possible mistakes that could be made, so that English learners don’t have to make them personally! Anyway, I have to get them done by Sunday! Phew, that’s a lot of work! So yeah, rough and ready; here is the 2nd of 5*: 

When you’re teaching it’s unrealistic to assume that your classes will always be fun – after all a mixture of terrible unrelatable subject matter, and poorly written books, can equal a nightmare for even the most enthusiastic teacher!

I recall once with a middle school class, the lesson was based around the Canadian governmental system…yeah, exactly…why? The books were made in Korea, which made it even more unusual – I just wasn’t sure how this was something that would benefit English language learners – actually I thought it was likely to confuse them if anything! But I was told this was what I had to do – in short, I basically had no choice. So I did what I could, and planned some fun activities surrounding the text…but we had to get through the heavy reading first.

Rudd GIF

This wasn’t fun for me, and it certainly wasn’t fun for them! But we stuck with it, I mean the lesson would finish eventually – right? The clock seemed to be ticking backwards, but surely that was just my imagination…it had to be…

Anyway – so on, and on, and on, the reading droned – something about elections, and votes, and private, and public…finance, and…well I don’t know…it all sounded like “BLAH, BLAH, BLAH” to me…I could see the students scratching their heads, wondering what evils they had committed to deserve this punishment…

That was when, out of nowhere – the girl who was reading erupted – I suppose her limit had been reached, and she could take no more! “TEACHER I’M SO BORING!” She collapsed into her forearms, and started to whinny like a dying horse. I tried to be as sympathetic as I could muster, and explained that she wasn’t boring – the book was just boring, and that she shouldn’t take it personally.

She didn’t look convinced, but I told her to continue, and commented that she had been doing well so far…but nope, she flatly refused; “NO, NO, NO! I’M TOO BORING! I CAN’T READ…NOT MORE!”

No No NO GIF

I’d lost the class – they were all probably running low on sugar, and discussions about politics, and systems they didn’t even understand hadn’t helped! So I took over the reading – and my goodness was it a drab pain-fest. I was both bored – which is surely a given – but also felt more boring for having read it.

So yeah, despite my student seemingly misunderstanding the difference between the two words, (boring, and bored) in a way – it had made complete, and total sense!

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(you can check out the 1st of 5, here.)*