Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: Homework

Type: Anecdote

An anecdote by Andrea Silter about a time when a student took her instruction a little too literally.

We all know that each class has diligent students who regularly do their homework and less diligent ones who always find an excuse or a lie about their laziness.

Two years ago, a 13-year-old student told me that he hadn't done his English homework because he had to take care of his baby sister. I didn't believe him because I knew he was an only child.

As I was fed up with his laziness and misbehaviour I took his notebook and wrote a message of complaint to his parents. Then I told him not to have the guts to come to the next English class without his mum's signature. 

'But my mum is not at home,' he exclaimed happily. 

'Tell your dad to sign the note,' I added. 

'But neither of them is at home.' 

Not wishing to continue that endless and useless discussion I told him plainly: 'Tell anyone who lives with you to read and sign that note!' 

'OK, as you wish,' he said and started smiling at me.

The next day I asked him to show me his notebook. 

'Here you are!' he told me smiling again. 

I opened it and saw a paw-shaped blot of ink instead of the required signature. He explained to me how he had dipped his cat's paw into the ink and then put it on the sheet of paper. All the children started laughing and laughing and so did I. Since then I have never ever told my students to have my notes of complaint to their parents signed by anyone who lives with them.

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