And Finally a Student Understands

Everyday, just after lunch, I am under an obligation to teach English Language Development to a mixed group of grade 10 and 11 students. It sounds quite onerous and that’s because it is, I am new to this system of ELD and because of this it has been known to try both my own and my students patience.

This week I have been teaching the  language of prediction, including conjugating verbs into the simple future, future perfect and future conditional. From this you should have quickly perceived that this was a hell of a lot of fun, exactly the sort of thing students of this age slip into conversation to impress their peers. I used to try and inject some humour into these classes, but that soon became about as rewarding  as trying to resuscitate a pair of unwashed underpants.

To assess their development at the end of the week the students had to write a paragraph predicting their lives in 20 years time. The first couple of students to finish furnished me with their Utopian visions of the future, good jobs, perfect families, international travel, essentially an obstacle free journey down the carpooling lane of life. I could not decide whether the students who did these had made them so sickly saccharine sweet to upset me, or if they hadn’t then I clearly wasn’t getting my philosophy on life across.

The third piece of work to be turned in quite simply blew my mind, this was clearly someone who hadn’t just listened to but adopted my world view. Below is an unedited reproduction of that piece of work.

In 20 years time I will be a worker at Berkshire Hathaway. I foresee that I’ll buy my watches from Casio and my furniture from Ikea. I will have slept outside a shop at least once in order to be one of the first to purchase a new iPhone. I suspect I will drink only Singha water and Singha beer. I will be very wealthy, but this won’t matter much because the bank I decide to put my money in will go bankrupt and the CEO will take my money to live on some faraway tropical beech. I will buy a sensible family car, and all my family will continuously use Colgate toothpaste and Colgate toothbrushes. My children will love their holidays to Disneyland, where they will start to appreciate the benefits of mindless consumerism. In 20 years time I will have been thinking, “why did I marry him?” for the past 10 years.

The dry humour, the tongue in cheek sarcasm left me agog. This is a student who clearly knows what to expect from life. It goes without saying that it received the top mark and was displayed outside of my classroom to try and spread the message to the rest of the students before it got too late.

It reminded me of the poem below Choose Life made popular by the movie Trainspotting:

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.

Choose your future.

Choose life.