Friday, October 3, 2008

ânes ou éléphants?

Some teachers are stridently political in front of their students; others are overtly sectarian.

I believe in being religiously and politically neutral in the classroom. Perhaps it's partly the influence of my having studied about the French educational system, and having lived and worked there, where the public schools are, constitutionally, secular.

(Incidentally, the 'slogan' for the French concept of public education is: gratuit, obligatoire, et laïque.
gratuit--free, obligatoire--obligatory, laïque--strongly secular, non-religious)

Anyway, so, this morning, in between classes, a former student of mine, J---, asked me:
"So, who're you gonna vote for?"
My reply: I don't discuss my personal political views in class, J---...
J---:, so really, though, are you a Republican or a Democrat?
Me: You'll get no partisan endorsement from me.
J---: well, you like donkeys or elephants? (!)
Me: friendly-eye-roll accompanied by bemused grin
J---: 'cuz, it's just, well, you kind of look like a Democrat (?! what does that mean?) but when you teach, you're kind of like a Republican.

I'm not sure how to take that.
But it's interesting.

Seriously, though, as a language-teacher, I'm finding the whole register-of-language thing very interesting, the way Palin insists on being folksy in her public statements (goshdarnit, youbetcha), the way Biden often sticks his foot in his mouth, and the marked difference in the way the candidates pronounce "Pakistan"--either the McCainian "pack-i-stan" or the Obamian "Pock-i-ston."

(By the way, ânes means "asses/donkeys" in French...)


  1. Interesting how people categorize you, eh? I get that a lot in my politically charged office in MA.

    "You look like a democrat"...wonder what that means. :)

    (and I dedicated a post to you/Sara today :)))

  2. Joe, if you stopped driving your 1987 orange Volvo wagon with the fading Kerry/Edwards sticker to school, your students may stop thinking you're such a liberal.

    Hehehe. Just kidding.

  3. But Joe, on stage at the meetings you look like a Republican...hmm, I wonder what the audience thinks?

    Just kidding.

  4. Indeed...what DOES all this mean, eh? funny there, Daniel...but I do wonder--vehicles do carry political baggage--what does a Toyota conjure? I do have an "Arizona-Sonora-Desert-Museum" sticker on my rear windshield...And Lisa--I have a mtg.-'Republican'-look?! hmm...