Teaching Diary

Teaching Diary: Wile E. Coyote, Genius

I don’t find it easy to teach about Job Interview Skills and make it interesting. I did some experiments today to keep me and my students a little more involved. After collecting information, visiting websites, typing vocabulary lists and useful phrases, and downloading graphics, I had ended up with enough material for about three weeks of classes.

We started class today with a writing warm-up exercise and discussion about “success.” Students had some interesting concepts about what success means to them; there were standard answers like “money, recognition, house, car,” but there were also some more profound concepts. “Never giving up, realizing your potential, contributing to family and society, surviving failure, working hard toward one goal,” and even “applause” (any performers present?) showed up on the list. We also talked about dealing with success or failure, and the job search, as an “emotional roller-coaster ride,” one of my personal favorite phrases in English.

To illustrate emotional roller-coasters and to inject some humor, I showed a Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon. Wile E. Coyote’s life always seemed to me to be an exercise in futility, but I asked my students, “OK, in your opinion, would you call these two characters successes or failures?” Some of the students gave the coyote credit for trying hard, and for being creative and inventive; he was thus partly a success. My next questions was “Would you call them ‘professionals’ at what they do?” The “professional” part was kind of a strange concept, so I had my first class came up with definitions of “professionalism.”

In my second class I did something a little off-the-wall: “Is the Coyote a professional? Can’t decide? Let’s do this: I want you to work in groups of 3 students, and each group will write a Help Wanted Ad for a Coyote. Come up with a job title, basic responsibilities (chasing Roadrunners), qualifications, and salary. Go.” They busied themselves for about 20 minutes, as I heard some laughter, and they shared their humorous results. One group came up with a pay scale based on whether the Roadrunner was delivered dead or alive; another decided that Wile E. must be able to deal with “extreme pressure.”

Priscilla revisited

I hadn’t watched Priscilla, Queen of the Desert for about 10 years, so I introduced the movie to a friend this weekend, after downloading it (for free) from the internet. The funny bits are still howlingly funny, and the costumes outrageous. I found that some of the lines were difficult, for cultural reasons, to explain:

“Now listen here, you mullet. Why don’t you just light your tampon and blow your box apart? Because it’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart!”

When asked what music she wants to perform with the trio, Bernadette replies:

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “No more f***ing ABBA!”


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