The fact that school is starting again soon for some, and has already started for others, brings back to mind my days at the front of the classroom. I spent 17 years teaching high school students and adult education classes and have some wonderful memories of those times.I always thought learning should be fun, and whenever possible I tried to be creative and find new and interesting ways to present the subject matter.
I was teaching a course in consumer economics, and we were discussing capitalism and the opportunities it provides. On the day before Christmas vacation--a day when keeping students on task is always a challlenge-- I decided I would show the movie "Moscow on the Hudson" with Robin Williams because I felt the movie illustrated well the limited choices his character Vladimer had in Russia compared to in the United States. (If you are not familiar with this 1984 movie, it's about a Russian circus performer who seeks asylum in the U.S. while his circus troupe is on tour here. In the process of becoming acclimated to his new home, he nearly has a nervous breakdown in an American supermarket because he is overwhelmed by all the options available at his fingertips, after having had to stand in line to buy a loaf of bread in his homeland.)
One problem: It was an R-rated movie, and even though my class was made up almost entirely of seniors, I did face the risk of incurring the wrath of some parents if the brief nudity was viewed in my classroom. I previewed the film and determined the point at which I needed to stop it, fast forward through the nudity, and resume play. The scenc came fairly late in the movie, so I settled down in a chair at the back of the room--where I could keep an eye on the class--and proceeded to enjoy the film with my students.
It turned out the scene in question occurred sooner than I remembered. All at once on the screen at the front of the classroom were Robin Williams and Maria Alonso sitting naked in the bathtub together! I panicked and jumped out of my chair and raced to the front of the room to the VCR. The students, amused by my panic began to chuckle--most of them had probably seen more graphic stuff at the theater, but this was my classroom, after all! In my distress, I forgot to hit the stop button before hitting the fast forward, so on the screen, the movie is racing forward, causing Maria's boobs to bounce up and down with the speed of the fast forward motion. Now the class was roaring with laughter, partly due to how funny Maria looked with the bouncing boobies, and partly because of my consternation!
The rest of the movie continued without any further interruptions, but immediately after the class ended, I hurried to the principal's office to explain what had occurred before he could hear it from a student, or worse--an irate parent who might be outraged that I exposed their 17 year-old son or daughter to two-sex bathing and bouncing bare breasts! As I breathlessly told my tale of disaster, the principal held back a chuckle and asked, "Where are you teaching next year, Eva?"
As it turned out, there were no repercussions from parents, but the story of Mrs. Gallant running to the front of the classroom in her stocking feet (I had taken my shoes off thinking no one would notice at the back of the room!) and hitting the fast forward button on the VCR to bring about animated bubble bath boobies certainly circled among the students and teachers that day! Thank goodness a ten day Christmas vacation gave the story time to die out! And I did get to keep my job for a few more years.