Had a student who got his finger stuck inside a test tube. It was really quite stuck. I knew something was up when I saw about 26 different sets of shoulders around the room shaking as they heroically tried to conceal their laughter. This young man’s finger continued to get whiter and whiter right before my eyes.
Remaining calm, I tried to dislodge the tube. Nothing. I suggested he carefully rotate it. It wouldn’t budge. He tried soap and cold water. Still stuck. Meanwhile chaos is breaking out in my class, as my lesson becomes completely derailed. Finally, I sent this wily young man to the office. Our secretaries are miracle workers raising six kids between the two of them. With them in charge, I was completely confident all would be ok.
Forgetting about the lesson du jour, I masterfully got the students back in some degree of order by sharing my own story of getting my knee stuck between the rails of a balcony. Same kind of curiosity, I remembered wondering at the time how far I could thrust my knee between the rails. Inch by inch, I kept pushing and before I knew it, my knee was stuck and swelling right before my eyes and in front of a lot of strangers at a popular Las Vegas hotel!
Many of the students listening to my story of humiliation shot up their hands eager to tell their own stories of heads, arms, fingers stuck in places they shouldn’t be. The laughter was refreshing while we waited for finger tube boy to return.
Shortly after he left, the young man reemerges grinning ear to ear, test tube in tack and finger returning to a lovely shade of pink. We returned to the science lesson on “total internal reflection” careful now to use the equipment properly.
I just couldn’t get mad at this kid. He’s only twelve after all. I too got my knee unstuck, but not without a tremendous amount of embarrassment. The excuse for me however, was not youth but sheer stupidity. I was after all 51 years old when this happened.
When do you laugh at yourself?
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