My Students Feel Hester Prynne’s Pain

My juniors just started reading The Scarlet Letter, that tale of the poor Puritan Hester Prynne, who has an affair, gets pregnant, and is subsequently shamed by society ever after. In chapter 2, she must mount a scaffold and spend part of the day being stared at and scorned by the entire town, in an act of public shaming meant to punish her sin.

After reading that part with them, I asked my class, “Can you imagine what that must have felt like for Hester? To be forced to stand on a stage while a thousand people stare and judge you for your human mistakes?”

They all looked a bit amused as the answer to my clumsy rhetorical question finally became clear to me.

You see, I teach at a school for the performing arts.

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Karma Plus Schadenfreude

It’s surprising to me just how entertained people near me have been by a couple of incidents of mild misfortune that have come my way.  Karma, I suppose: I’ve certainly derived more than my fair share of amusement from schadenfreude in my time; it’s only reasonable that others will get to have a chuckle at my expense, too.

Let’s get the facts straight, though:

RUMOR: I got a student to call a radio station in the middle of class on Friday and request “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas.”  She got on the air and I got in trouble.

STATUS: True.  I’ve perpetrated this cute diversion in other classes over several years, but this time both my name and the name of my school were aired, and as the DJs had a tone of mildly confused consternation as they talked to the student, there were those who worried it made us look bad.  Suffice it to say, I won’t be doing this again. 

However, they did play the song, so it was pretty much worth it.  :)

RUMOR: On Saturday morning, I left my baby in a bookstore.

STATUS: True.  Continue reading