Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday (today) marks the start of the last official week of school. Next week, we have exams; the week after that, staff clean-up and pack-up; the week after that, summer break. Modern education has a myth that teachers are somehow depressed by summer break, that they spend each hot day wandering through the school halls and each night dreaming up monster tests and projects come September.

This is not true. All of us teachers are just as excited as the students for summer break, just as ready to spend every day chilling with family and friends and indulging hobbies, just as ready to sleep longer every night. And so, these last ten days are crammed with efforts to lighten the mood. Danae, our 10th grade biology teacher, created a 'Spirit Week' for the students: everyone dressed as a 'geek or mad scientist today' and watched a science show during lunch. Note to self: I must think of a way to reproduce the Wow! factor of a science show with literature and writing classes.

As I have come up with no English class version of the science show, I stuck with telling jokes. Jokes make for easy (and fun) lesson preparation: this morning, I spent 45 minutes clicking the 'Random Joke' button on the Good Clean Funnies List. (Please note: GCFL would like me to inform you that their email address is, as the condition for reprinting a bunch of jokes.)

Reading through the joke site was delightful. Periodically, I would keel over in my chair in silent laughter (I probably shouldn't do this in the staff room; my fellow teachers may be asking me over the next day or two whether I'm feeling okay.) Every time this happened, I copied the joke to a document which I later printed.

After lunch, I brought a wad of jokes (about 6, on 3 pieces of paper) into my 9th grade class and told them at intervals throughout the 80-minute period. Don't worry, we did real work too: reviewed grammar and language for the final exam, prepped for the essay questions, reviewed how to write an essay question, worked on an end-of-quarter project, and reviewed the events of the novel. But the jokes were wonderful, a refreshingly laid-back moment in the last few days of May.

Here are a few of my students' favourites, for your enjoyment:

A Blonde Joke (the 9th graders really liked this one):

A blonde went to the appliance store sale and found a bargain. "I would like to buy this TV," she told the salesman.

"Sorry, we don't sell to blondes," he replied.She hurried home and dyed her hair, then came back and again told the salesman, "I would like to buy this TV."

"Sorry, we don't sell to blondes," he replied.

"Darn, he recognized me," she thought.

She went for a complete disguise this time; haircut and new color, new outfit, big sunglasses, then waited a few days before she again approached the salesman. "I would like to buy this TV."

"Sorry, we don't sell to blondes," he replied.

Frustrated, she exclaimed, "How do you know I'm a blonde?"

"Because that's a microwave," he replied.

A Few One-Liners (the 10th graders loved these):

I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a workstation.

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but always check when you say the paint is wet? (Or, for you Kansans, why do we people inhale when someone says, Smell that skunk?)

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy. (this was a 10th grade favourite.)

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You definitely need a parachute to skydive twice.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

A bus is a vehicle that runs twice as fast when you are after it as when you are in it.

Longer Short Jokes (also beloved by the 10th graders):

Driving down the highway, I saw this slogan on the back of a well-known trucking company's vehicle: "We Always Go the Extra Mile." In the grime beneath it, someone had scrawled, "That's Because We Missed the Last exit."

Proper attire is required in the cafeteria at the University of Maine. To enforce that rule, the management posted this notice: "Shoes are required to eat in this cafeteria." Next to it, a student added, "Socks can eat wherever they want."

And a Czech Pun (which the 9th graders liked):

A Russian scientist and a Czech scientist had spent their whole lives studying the majestic grizzly bear. Each year they petitioned their respective governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone to study these wondrous beasts.

Finally, their request was granted and they immediately flew to NY and then on West to Yellowstone. They reported to the local ranger station and were told that it was the grizzly mating season and it was much too dangerous to go out and study the animals.

They pleaded that this was their only chance. Finally the ranger relented. The Russian and the Czech were given cell phones and told to report in each and every day.

For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from the two scientists. The rangers mounted a search party and found the scientists' camp completely ravaged. No sign of the missing men.

They then followed the trail of a male and a female bear. They found the female and decided they must kill the animal to find out if she had eaten the scientists because they feared an international incident.

They killed the female and cut open the bear's stomach... only to find the remains of the Russian.

One ranger turned to the other and said, "You know what this means, don't you?"

"Of course," the other ranger nodded. "The Czech is in the male."

More Pictures

I know I've talked about how parks are really a Czech cultural thing, but I want to clarify. When I say that parks are important in Prague, please do not imagine a few trees with monkey bars and a picnic table off to the side (and, if you're lucky, an artificial pond with a tiny fountain in the middle).

I will probably miss the Czech parks very badly next year, when I am at home sitting beside artificial ponds.

Czech parks are like the Garden of Eden.

Near my apartment is Stromovka Park. In the park is a little outside restaurant, benches for sitting and reading or sitting and talking or sitting and kissing, a wildflower garden, long concrete paths for rollerblading, and a Planetarium. I took my camera out yesterday evening, and here is what I came home with:

A bridge:

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