Flako the Clown*

I think this country is full of geniuses, guys and gals so bright they make your average card-carrying MENSA member look like F**ko the Clown. And I think that most of them are teachers…”

                                                             – from Insomnia, by Stephen King.


I’ll speak for myself; I am no genius. And, as evidenced by a class of 42 sixth graders this week as I tripped over a power cord while I shouted, in Spanish, ‘No, the gorilla did not kiss Taylor Swift, the gorilla danced with Taylor Swift!” while holding a stuffed gorilla, I resemble Flako the Clown.

On top of teaching hundreds of kids a week as a transient language teacher, I have been charged  with training new teachers, as well. Over the past couple of years, thanks to a sick economy, our teacher trainees have brought wonderful backgrounds to the job: a former television producer, a Russian polyglot, a classic pianist, a Chinese housewife, a business owner, and a graduate of Quebec’s oldest French speaking university.

I have noticed a dramatic shift during their first weeks of teaching. It is a kind of culture clash.

The first days of the school year are filled with comments volunteered to inform me, the humble career teacher. These second-careerists have experience rich and broad, and, coupled with the fact that they were formerly students, their insights are sharper and more refined than those blunted by years of bureaucratic mediocracy. Their observations of student behavior, teacher expectations, and content knowledge, you see, are superior. They were never tainted by the stain of teaching for money. Circumstances have put them in this temporary role, so that they may bless the public schools with their enlightenment. At this stage, the trainees see me as the good-natured, but bumbling, captain of a rusty back-water fish boat.

Within their first 48 hours of instruction, these pedagogical prodigies usually experience a violent shift. They realize that their sevant-like prowess is simply not appreciated by the kids. You see, today’s kids aren’t like yesterday’s kids. American youth are genetically inferior to those from other nations. The school’s culture is corrupted. The homeroom teacher doesn’t get it. The students don’t get it. The rooms are too big. The rooms are too small. The hands on the clock move too fast, then come to a complete halt. At this stage, the trainees see me as the drunken, short-sighted, neglectful, captain of a rusty, back-water fish boat.

Within the next 72 hours, or so, of instruction, after the trainees have been humbled and horrified by student behavior that would make a mosh pit look organized, the trainees start looking at ol’ Flako a little differently. They focus less on my boat’s rust, barnacles, and smoking engine room. In fact, they seem irritated by the fact that I seem to be having a good old time on my creaky craft. My nets are set, my anchor is properly weighed, and a few kids are actually eating my fish. At this stage I am bloody Captain Stubing from the Love Boat.

am no genius. I may resemble Flako the Clown.  Regardless, when the bell rings I’ll be at the wheel – come hell or high water.

Su pobre payaso,

Profe Suave

*Mr. King’s “F**ko has been changed to protect and respect the sensitive ears of myself and the esteemed reader. No disrespect is  intended to a writer who is, truly, a genius.





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One thought on “Flako the Clown*

  1. How does one become part of the MENSA? Btw, if Forest Gumpt has taught us anything it is that when the hurricaine comes, its always the old rusty boats that keep on trucking. Now keep working on that backhand and you'll have a fine ping pong career ahead of you when, to save money, the public school system goes all online.

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