Friday, January 11, 2008


Isaac brought a sword to school on Tuesday. On Thursday, he stopped by in the morning looking serious. Serious, I might add, for the first time this school year.

"What if I decided I just wanted to end it all?" he announced.

"End what?" I asked.

"Everything," he said. "Suicide. What's the point of living?"

I looked at him. Gone was the usual twinkle in his eye. No mischievous smile. I decided not to take him seriously anyway. "Oh, come on, Isaac," I said. "Life is long and full of unexpected twists and turns. Enjoy the ride."

"Yeah," he said, "but what if all those twists and turns lead to nothing but dead ends?"

"You can't be serious. Wait, are you serious? Do I need to talk to your counselor about this?"


"Liability. If you do anything to yourself, I'll get in trouble."

"You could just pretend we never had this conversation," he said.

"I can, but I'd rather have you alive. I mean, you have so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Well, look at me for example," I said. "One day you can be as successful and cool as me."

He cracked up, quickly transforming back to his jolly self.

"Damn you! You got me," he said as he continued to laugh. "Successful. You!"


appopt said...

Later in the day he insisted I play some video game with him and his friends. My response? "No way." "Oh, I'll get you to play," he said. "Even Jack plays. It took months to get him to play, but now he does. I'll get you."

spacedunce-5 said...

Hey, Teacher Man. I'm a high school student in Taiwan, woh knows a bit of English. Found your blog through kos (go Obama!), and, being a high school student myself, I find I can relate to many of your posts, though some are experiences too outlandish for our conservative culture. Also, your blog is the most well-written one I've ever read, aside from my own (but it's in Chinese. However, Chinese isn't that different from Japanese. Hmm...).


somedude said...

I also found you through Kos. I teach English in Chicago (at Las Casas, which you've never heard of I'd guess. We're the city's forgotten school), so this is extra fun to read.

No kid has brough a sword yet, but a favorite student just finished a suspension for bringing a corkscrew to school. He told me today he thought I'd understand, since I seem like a wine drinker. I asked why. "Cus you go class man!" "Actually, I have 5 classes." long awkward pause. "Man, your sense of humor is just.." sad shake of head.

Why do English teachers love bad jokes?

appopt said...

somedude, You're right. I've never heard of Las Casas. But I like the name. It's funny that, even though I'm from Chicago and went to a city high school about five miles away, I never heard of my current school until the day nine years ago when sub center called and told me to go there. I eventually got hired and have been there ever since. Another thing you're right about: I liked your joke and will probably use it.

As for spacedunce-5: You're a pretty darn good writer too, especially if you're really a Taiwanese high school student. So thanks for your comment! I especially appreciate compliments from teenagers, because teens are often the very harshest critics.

mellowjohn said...

howzit teacher man?

i, too, came in thru kos, but bookmarked you right after i read your post.

i'm a spec ed teacher on the west side (17 intermediate tmh kids in one self-contained classroom – don'tcha love the cps?), and i'm looking forward to reading and responding to your posts.

hang in there...

mellowjohn said...

p.s my younger son graduated from lane, too. '92.

Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
spacedunce-5 said...


You know, even though you keep saying what a lousy teacher you are, I would give half my test scores to have you be our homeroom. Many teachers here in Taiwan only care about how students do on tests.

Speaking of tests, almost every student here takes the college entrance exams very seriously, because it's extremely hard to find a job here even WITH a bachelor's degree. College admission is around 97%, which tells you a lot about the quality of higher education.

It's a pity I don't have writing classes; sounds like fun!

appopt said...

Spacedunce, I'd give half my salary for my students to have half your test scores. Do you accept U.S. dollars?

No, wait ...