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:

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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:

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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:

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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: 

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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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How to WIN/LOSE Arguments with Kids!

There is nothing more frustrating than neverending arguments with kids…especially with adults who don’t really have a clue what the hell they are even talking about (which if we are honest is most of us)…

But I’m here to help. Well, I’ll give it my best shot anyways…

Errrrrr…good luck…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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When MERS Attacks!

My boss sent me a rather rushed message last night regarding my work for the next day, the gist of which was; no school tomorrow. Please stay home. 

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This is because South Korea is on high alert at the moment, especially in my close area, due to the recent outbreak of the MERS virus*This is pronounced like “Merris” for some reason, which to me sounds like a sweet old grandmother who bakes cakes, and sucks on extra strong mints in her spare time – but the reality couldn’t be further from that. It’s actually pretty serious, or at least that’s what I’ve been told…

Little is known about it other than that it is thought to have started in Saudi Arabia…possibly something to do with camels. Never did like camels – all that spitting always struck me as insanitary. I’m not quite sure how it all works, but I imagine the camel spat in someone’s eye, and then that guy licked someone, and so on, and so on…in time the camel had enough of being judged so took a flight to Korea, naturally one thing led to another and now…MERS virus panic in SK!

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What does that mean for me? Well, I am forced to have the day off (BOOO HOOO, I’m crying a river over that one), and when I go out I am recommended to wear a face mask in case someone sneezes directly into my mouth at some point. It makes me look like a bit of a ninja, especially with sunglasses it just feels like a rather shit halloween costume…so I’m opting out of that. Instead I’ll just try my best not to kiss any camels should they start to flirt with me.

Wish me luck… 

*Jokes aside, here is a link to a more credible source for information regarding the MERS virus, should go without saying that I urge everyone in the proximity to be careful – and should you spot any symptoms seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. 

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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…

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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)…

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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.

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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?”

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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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Fight Club

I would like to think I am a lover, and not a fighter…after all, usually physical conflict doesn’t really solve much when you think about it. Obviously some people make it very tempting, but more often than not, non-peaceful ways to shut them the hell up, are somewhat frowned upon!  Naturally if your dear old Granny was being mobbed by a set of escaped rampant ostriches, you’re probably okay to get the broom out. But in most cases, you’re just likely to get yourself into trouble…

But I was forced to think about this by a guy today – and thanks to his inane question regarding the matter, I’ve been mulling over past bouts ever since…

I only really had one big proper fight at school – which is quite a feat as I went to an all-boys secondary in the North-East of England – not sure how I escaped, I guess I was very good at running away. Anyway, I used to be very embarrassed about its living memory – but now that I look back on it, it was a pretty funny situation, and one which I should have laughed off immediately – rather than getting all defensive about;  you know – blushing, and shrugging whenever anyone asked me about it.

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But back then I lived even deeper in my thoughts than I do now, I didn’t express much, apart from between my nearest, and dearest – stifled by shame, self-consciousness, and a bitter embarrassment regarding just about everything (like, literally.) So this is the first time I’ve told the story to a larger audience…so please bear with me…

It all started on an unassuming school day. I was with my friends on the smaller courtyard, where you could largely avoid the manic hustle, and bustle of the main schoolyard – by which I mean footballs being blasted off your face at every juncture, and/or birds shitting on you in passing, as they scrabbled for the scraps of leftover sandwiches.

That’s not to say it was totally peaceful where we spent our break-times. It was still basically a war-zone…

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Unwanted oranges, apples, and bananas (note: no chocolate was ever thrown) would fly from one end to the other – accompanied with blood-curdling cries, and bellowing swear word strewn sentences, that would even make Vinnie Jones wince.

On the day in question, it appeared to be particularly heated – and the various food items were flying with an increased ferocity. We huddled together, my friends and I, attempting to dip, and dodge any incoming missiles – before scraping them off the floor, and hurling them back. You could only pause momentarily to laugh, should it hit your target – because luxuriate in giggling for too long, and you can be sure that the dirtied tangerine segment would be SPLAT , back in your face!

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So it was quite a surprise when I was told that one of our sworn enemies (that day), now wanted to fight me…something about I had thrown a sloppy banana right off his forehead, and for whatever reason he wasn’t too fond of that fact. I didn’t even know who he was…so they pointed him out…of course, yup – just my luck – he was taller, and about four people wider than me. My friends didn’t care, the occasion had pumped them full of testosterone, and all of a sudden they wanted to see blood. A couple of them ran off to tell him I was up for it, as the others tried to make it seem like a great idea:

“He’s a year younger, man…he’s not even THAT big…well okay, he is…but you know – you throw like one punch, and then we all join in – then it’s like seven versus one! No worries  – YOU HAVE TO NOW!” 

NO! I wasn’t going to do it! No…but how to plot my escape out of this situation – could always go out the side-door, yeah…I began to walk away, with several friends still trying to convince me that it was a great idea – I wasn’t having any of it – “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” Someone randomly screamed to my complete horror, and disbelief – before I knew it a crowd had circled in, barring my way out – and there he was, this massive entity. There was no way out of this, I’d never live it down if I ran now…or perhaps I could fake a heart attack…nah, that’s be even worse probably. It was time to face the music. I turned to my fantastic friends, who had basically orchestrated this whole thing – the excitement level for them was clearly off the charts – on the other hand, I was so scared I felt like I may literally shit my pants.

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I looked at my foe – clearly if he got his hands on me, he would literally murder me. One punch from him, and I’d be eating through a straw, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t let that happen. I’d obviously have to try some unusual tactics to avoid him caving my skull in with meaty fists. But what? I had no ideas, so just lunged in there – to no avail, thankfully he missed me too. I turned back to my friends, with a look that said “Jesus Christ – please fucking help you set of complete dickheads” – but no, they just made gestures for me to get a move on.

I was quivering with a fearful kind of excitement, everything was blurred in a mad frenzy – perhaps I would cry, that would be humiliating. Light bulb. I jumped in and booted him in the chest…I pretty much bounced straight off him, cue laughter from the blurs that surrounded me…I tried again, It was literally the only way I could think of to keep distance from this unnatural behemoth. It never worked, I just pinged back as if I was the pinball – and he was the strong flippers at the bottom. He attempted to grab me on numerous occasions, but never quite managed it.

So there I was – just flying in with useless kick, after useless kick. Like a demented version of Kung Fu Panda, but without any of the guile, or charm that makes him admirable. But I had no Plan B – I’d just keep trying this until a teacher would inevitably break it up…after all, there is NO chance any of the onlookers would do anything of the sort. That’d be way too mature, way too sensible.

“OI! WHAT’S GOING ON OVER THERE?!” 

“Oh, thank God” I thought to myself, with a sigh of relief:

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The crowd dispersed, in every direction – and we fled back to our respective corners. But there’s no real code, and soon someone, somewhere had snitched…and the teacher was over next to us, asking questions. “WHO WAS FIGHTIN’? HUH?”  Everyone insisted that nothing had happened, that he had been seeing things…“NO FIGHT? THEN WHY WAS THERE A MASSIVE CROWD? HMM?” One of my friends tried to cheekily claim that the crowd was to do with a Yu-Gi-Oh card, and that it was really rare, so everyone was crowding around to see…inventive, I’ll give him that – but the teacher didn’t buy it. And before long the truth came to light.

We were suspended for the day, the two of us. And while we waited for our parents, we had to sit together – which was awkward…I felt like at any moment he would smash my face through one of the glass cabinets, or at the very least strangle me to death with his banana stained tie. But he didn’t. Just stared at me non-stop, as I squirmed with unease.

Fortunately both my parents were out at work, so it fell to my Grandad to pick me up. Which was a lot less daunting. I slumped into his car, and he immediately wanted all of the details – did I get a good punch in? How big was he? etc, etc! I said he was massive, so I tried to kick him, but it didn’t exactly work out. I thought it best not to mention the fact that I was flying around like a terrible Hong Kong Phooey imitation. And that if I wasn’t so small, he would have probably crushed me to death…

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Anyway, we drove on to my Grandparent’s house, where we had mountains of bacon sandwiches, and gallons of hot sugary tea. My Grandma fussed over me, as Grandmas do – whilst my Grandad made me laugh with Rocky impressions. Later on he called me up to his attic, where he showed me an antique crossbow he had kept hidden for years. “YOU BETTER NOT BE SHOWING HIM THAT CROSSBOW KEITH, IT’S DANGEROUS!” called my Grandma from the kitchen…

He lied, and winked at me – whilst trying to fight back a grin. Then we went back downstairs, and lounged around watching cowboy films for the rest of the day. I suppose in this life, you have to take the good with the bad – and this memory encapsualtes that message entirely for me…it was both the worst day, and the very best day. And for that reason I wouldn’t change it, even if I could. 

Well…perhaps…I wouldn’t have went with the lame kicking technique – would have been nice not to be labelled “Jackie Chan” for the rest of my school-days! But yeah, never mind…

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Job Hunt

Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to have a job?  And when I say job, I mean the thing you don’t really want, but get up most days to go to, and spend most of your life complaining about – yeah, that thing. I am not referring to dreams, callings, or purposes – I am talking about the “it’s just a job” jobs…the largely “just for the money” jobs.

(You know…the ones that destroy your soul, and make you feel completely replaceable).

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Apologies for the pessimistic tone! But I have been on the job hunt as it were, and so far I haven’t caught much…if this was in the wild sometime BC, and I was a caveman…well, yeah…the family would be going hungry right now. A lot of things have just went wrong, or at least haven’t turned out right – whilst others have been an undeniable travesty.

So here goes:

* Summer 2014: I spent two months in England battling the Korean embassy for a work-visa…I had signed for a new school, but just had to get the legal side of things straightened out (for some reason they wanted to make sure I wasn’t a murderer…which I thought was fair enough). One delay came after another, and every phone call was met with “you should just wait!” Well…I had been waiting…and it was getting ridiculous.  Fortunately two days before I was due to be flown out, the visa arrived! HOOOOORAAAAY! Unfortunately the day after this, my school emailed me saying it was going to close down…so they no longer needed me as a teacher. Fucking fantastic. I flew out anyway, as I felt it would be easier to find jobs while I was actually in the country. GULP.

* Autumn 2014: Got a few things in the works, as you may have heard, but needed something more concrete to pay the bills, and you know – feed myself. So I began interviewing for new schools…the first one I interviewed for was in an old neighbourhood, which was kind of quaint, and interesting. The boss had a very errr…bizarre story for me though – whilst discussing the school, and the whole set up of the operation, he went on to inform me that the whole thing plays out like an unbelievable TV drama; he has one teacher who ran away to “get married to an Iraqi man”, and then returned out of the blue, but told no one what had happened – another who has been working there for seventeen years “because he won’t leave” – another who became pregnant, and continued to deny it (why?) even when she was in the later inflated balloon stage…another who…okay, let’s leave it there. I just thought: what the hell is this place?! And where is the exit?!

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* Autumn 2014 (Continued): I interviewed at another school…which was weird in another way – I got there, and sat down with the chap…he nodded, asked one or two questions…well, no…they weren’t questions they were just vague statements – he then said I looked good so he had no problems, I had the job if I wanted it, and that we could sign the contract the following week. The whole thing took about five minutes, if that. I was pleased as the school was close to Taco Bell, which meant that I’d be having a splendid lunch for two weeks in a row! However…and it’s a big however…the week after signing the contract, the agent got in touch with me…and said that, that school l is closing down too! WHAAAAAT THE FIZUCKKKK?! It’s like fucking King Midas…except everything I touch doesn’t turn to gold…it turns to literal human shit!!!?? What is wrong with me?! ARGHHHH! Breathe…breathe…breathe…

* Winter 2014: I got a temporary position for a couple of weeks at a school, and so far it is going okay – actually they offered me a full time job come February – but the timing won’t be right. This when put with my private tutors…editing gigs…and other things, means that I won’t die of starvation, which is naturally a huge relief. I am excited to be going home for Christmas! But I am continuing on my job search…mrs-satan/ got in touch actually, and it should say a lot that I am tempted to return – they offered extremely short hours, and only with kindergarten too – so it’d be playing with kids, and then writing, and doing whatever I wanted for the rest of the time. Sounds sweet…but then again…I’d be in her hellish arena once more. Meanwhile, my Korean friend is trying to get me a job at his workplace – something about social media, I don’t know – it’d be a real grown up job…suit and tie by rule, not just because…arghhh, all of this hurts my head.

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That’s why I have day-dreamed about how fantastic it would be if we all just wandered around, doing whatever – naturally it is impossible, but still. I hope that one day, I can make enough money from the things I love, so that I don’t have to have all of these money-woes, and job worries. It reduces from the beauty of life itself, because you become fixated on money, money, money.

ARGHHH! Now Abba is stuck in my head…I have only myself to blame. Wish me luck my friends, I hope you are all doing well.

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