Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cheaters, Liars and a Trampled Puppy

I got my first sneak peek at the art students here have perfected that is cheating. I assigned my first graded homework and when it came time to collect, the students were scrambling to copy other people and hand it in. I remember 8th grade - people scrambled. But not everyone. Here - 100% scrambling it seems like. So I collected everyone´s who had finished and told them I´d count to ten and after that, I´d accept no more. I got a couple more. Not one minute after I said I´d collect no more, I had students walk up to hand me their papers. I shut them down in front of their entire class. They shot me these exasperated looks, like I was the most irrational person they´d ever encountered. I held my ground though.

One girl came up and I let her take her paper because she said she forgot to write her name. Yeah, I was a sucker. She comes back three minutes later while my back is turned and I´m writing on the board and tries to stuff what is apparently her own paper and two others into the folder. I caught her in the act and told her she couldn´t do that. She was like "what do you mean? These were here!" That´s when I went into my dramatic mode, pulling them out of the folder and pushing them off the desk to the ground, saying I wouldn´t accept them and told her to sit down. I once again turned my back to write on the board after she left for her seat and turned around to find more on my desk, shoved between various places in my notebooks. One student had even strategically placed their homework on the ground to make it look like it had just fallen off the table. At the end of class, the papers I´d ignored and their owners came to me with ridiculous puppy dog eyes and "senhora professora! pooor favoooor!" I guess when blatant cheating and copying don´t work, begging and sacrificing your dignity come next. They claimed that their papers had been in my stack of papers. The same girl came up with her paper again. When I called her out on lying, she said that it wasn´t here but another girl earlier. I responded with a good ol´"I don´t like liars and I´m not stupid. Did you forget your name? Is that why it took you so long to bring your homework up?" Or maybe she has undiagnosed multiple personality disorder. I was almost on the verge of taking the other students´homework and giving in when another boy from their turma came up and was like "Teacha, nao aceita." Don´t take them. I´ll admit that his opinion made up my mind. He was a better witness to the cheating than I was. I wanted to say "thanks but you´re probably going to die later." The begging students started yelling at him - what I found to be another indicactor that they were lying. I explained that it wasn´t fair to students who did their homework on time and walked into my next class, leaving them outside. Not one minute after being in the next classroom, I see two students walk in carrying homework in their hands. My Encyclopedia Brown senses went into overdrive. Smugglers. I pounced on them faster than a child can ask me for money when I walk out our front door. What do you have in your hand? Why isn´t it in your notebook? I made them give it to me and surely enough, it was the homework from the students in my last clsas, the lying beggars. I then asked them point-blank if it was their homework and after a period of pensive lip-biting, they admitted the truth. I made an announcement to the class that anyone who aids and abeds a smuggler´s work will, in turn, be prosecuted by receiving a zero. I then crumpled up the smuggled homework and threw it out the door, where it landed at the liars´feet. I admit that I was hardcore dramatic but you´ve gotta be or they´ll walk all over you.

Speaking of walking all over something, I took Timba for a walk with Nia on our way to buy bread. Tons of people were walking in the opposte direction because the soccer game let out. A boy was walking past us and he zig-zagged toward me and the dog to scare Timba. Of course Timba freaked out and tried to get under my legs, resulting in me trampling him. He yelped and cried horribly. I felt so bad. I think he was more scared than anything. And that little moron just kept on walking and laughing. I glared at him but didn´t say anything, something I regret. The next time that happens, I´m going to yell or at least make a scene. That´s what one PCV did before she left Moz. Whenever someone kicked or hit her dog, she would kick or hit them. I think that´s a solid tactic that I might just have to employ. If anything, the way people treat him will make him more guarded and less trusting of strangers, hence, a better guard dog. It´s so weird walking with him in public because people make the noises you would make if you want an animal to come to them. It´s so annoying. So when a little boy did it and I was walking past, I hissed at him like a cat. I don´t even know why I did it.

The school hired a guard for our house so we´re golden now. And Nia told me she saw that he brings a sling-shot with him while he guards at night. I was like "why, does he get bored and shoot at things?" She gave me this funny look and was like "no, I think it´s to use against thieves."

We have been seeing a lot of thieves getting taken to jail lately. Maybe ´tis the season. I was sitting in my room yesterday grading exams with my headphones on when I heard the dull roar of criancas (children) getting louder and louder. Nia and I walked out to our back porch to watch it all go down. We don´t have TV so we embrace drama when it happens. When people catch thieves (or ninjas and they call them here - and I´m not even kidding. I think that´s why so many people are thieves. When people ask them what they do for a living, they get to say something cool, like "what do I do? Oh, I´m a ninja.") they and another person escort them personally to the jail next to our house and a mob of children from the primary school follows, shouting and harrassing the thief as they go. And when I say a mob, it´s about 100 or more children. They must have followed the thief too far yesterday because a guard was trying to make them move back. When they wouldn´t budge, he pulled out a handgun and held it at his side, walking toward them. They screamed and ran back toward the primary school. Nia and I couldn´t beleive that happened. It seems like even if you´re sitting at home here, something crazy is bound to happen. Just walking to use the internet today, I walked past an officer escorting a thief who had stolen a computer to the jail. We´ve seen an escorting of three different thieves three times in one week now. Impressive.

I have to go prepare to control exams again in an hour. When I controlled exams on Tuesday, I marked off for talking and cheating. The students were so annoyed with me. At the second exam I controlled, the students even groaned when I walked into the classroom because they know I actually watch them. It made me feel good actually because it shows I´m doing something right. They talked to Nia afterward and were like "are you going to control our exam? We don´t like it when Erin does it because we´re all friends and she won´t let us cheat together." Haha. Coincidentally, Nia did end up controlling their exam but she was just as harsh as I was. I can´t stand that the students here think cheating is okay. They´ve been taught to cheat to get ahead. It´s only reinforcing future corruption that stunts any kind of possible growth. These kids have so much potential but they´ll never reach it if they don´t think for themselves. Hopefully I can get that across to some students.

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