Great moments in teaching #1: Oppa Gangnam Style !

Ok, so here’s the first article of my column “Great moments in teaching”. I really can’t tell you much that’s interesting about my other jobs since they are IT and Journalism and not much of interest happens in them that is worth re-telling, but teaching is always funny. Here’s an example.

I was at a new school. It was a long way across Saigon. A REALLY long way. Anyway, I got there and talked to the principal and said “So.. I understand I have no books and I am to teach free-form from a topic, right ?” He said “No. Up to you. Just walk in and teach. Completely up to you what you want to do”. I’m like “Shiiiiiite. I do like free-form teaching but that’s a bit TOO open-ended. What the hell am I going to talk about ?”

Well, I went in and a few kids had books. They were pretty boring. “This is a Square. This is a Cirlce” and a list of animals with their names beside their pictures. I wanted to chat to them so I often ask the kids questions about themselves. What’s your name… how old are you… when is your birthday ? Also things like “What do you want for your birthday ?” Now keep in mind that kids probably don’t get gifts for their birthdays because you get a year older on the lunar new year and on that day you get given money. So on your birthday you only get a cake most likely. But the kids wanted to talk about animals and while I was saying “What do you want for your birthday ?” the cheekiest kid called out “Monkey !” and I turned around and asked “Who said that ? Who wants a monkey for their birthday ?”

Anyway, I drew a few animal stick figures on the board. One was a crude horse. I put a person on top of it and said “What is the name of this one ? The one that a person rides on top of ?” Noone answered. So I started doing an imitation of riding a horse, holding the reins. Still noone answered and as I’m standing their, bobbing up and down with my hands in front also moving up and down it occurs to me that I’m only inches from doing “The horse dance”. So after saying “What is this one ?” I figure I’ll run with it. I cross my wrists over top of each other and continue the motion and say “What about this one ?”

Right on cue, the cheeky kid starts singing… “Heeeeeyyyyyyy sexy laaaayyydyyyyy !” and a few girls laugh and I say “Yeah ! That’s it” and then another little kid on the other side of the class yells out “Oppa Gangnam Style !” and I’m like “Woohooo !” and start stabbing my fist in the air.

Oh the joy. Dancing Gangnam style for a bunch of 10 year olds while they sing along. Classic stuff. Makes teaching so much fun. Asia… I love you :”)

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