Pondering "the What ifs" in Life

The tangled web of the French teenaged mind.

I played a game this week where I presented my students with a lot of unusual situations and they had to respond at random with what they would do. It’s been an enlightening look into the mind of the average French 15 year old.

Par exemple:

Q: What would you do if you saw Tony Parker? 
A: I would hit him and ask for autographe.

Obviously the only viable response.

Some of my students are real sweethearts.

What would you do if you were a movie star? I would start a charity.

If you could read minds? I would know who loves me.
If you had a time machine? I would return to my childwood. (yes, childwood)
If you could make a movie? I would make a movie for my mother.

And, my favorite:

If you could fly? I would take Sarah to the sky.

Heartwarming. And it rhymes. Unfortunately his French desire not to put an emphasis on the right syllables prevented him from realizing his extra accomplishment.

Others are slightly more fixated on consumerism. My least motivated student became my most eager participant when I presented him with an opportunity to tell me his greatest desires. I asked him to be creative.

What would you do if you were a movie star? I would buy a car.
If you had a million euros? I would buy the cars (all the cars)
If you had a time machine? I would buy a flying car.

Keep dreamin’ big Samy.

I saw so many responses in 48 hours, I feel like I could employ this game as a method of psycho analysis. 

One boy is definitely an at risk conspiracy theorist.

What would you do if you could read minds? I would know my friends’ secrets.
If you were invisible? I would watch them.
If you could see through walls? I would spy on Obama.  

…. Hmmmm. 

Other kids had a strange fixation on control. These little opportunists could be the next dictators-in-making. They really shone when it came to authority.

What would you do if you were a teacher? I would be strict. Bah…and I would kill the students.

If you were queen? I would have my own empire.

If you found a wallet? I would take your money… or… I would keep the identity cards. (it’s nice that it was an either/or situation for him)
I’d say these are normal enough responses (although I hope I never lose my wallet here), but in my last class, Dillan, the class clown, offered a truly unique perspective:

What would you do if you were a teacher? I would fight my students.
If you were king? I would kill everybody. (This wasn’t even his question.)
If you found a cave? I would hide…no… I would visit it. (Ok then.)
If you saw Brad Pitt? I would kiss him.  
If you met George Clooney? I would kiss him.
A disturbing mix to say the least. Perhaps inspiration for the next HBO villain? The serial celebrity kisser? On reporting his answers to my French counterpart, she merely rolled her eyes.

Because this was my last class of the day and I had done ten of these panels already, I decided to pretend as if this game really did have a broader use in the field of psychology. Instead of scoring answers for correct grammatical structure, I rated the students’ personalities. My usually worst class (and by worst, I mean least motivated, most disruptive in the entire school. Their history teacher refused to teach them that day) became rapt with attention.

T., you’re a fearless adventurer, B., you’re a sneaky spy (couldn’t translate conspiracy theorist), S., you’re an opportunistic consumer, G., you’re a polite young man (he refused to look at girls in the shower even though he could see through walls, despite the other boys’ encouragement), and Dillan, dear special Dillan, you’re a passionate weirdo.

They were all surprisingly pleased with my classifications and took them seriously. I was like a backwards guidance counselor for a day.

Working on the conditional tense you learn a lot about people. Hence, I hope none of my students ever rule the world.

Categories: ESL

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