Monday, October 20, 2008

Forgetting French Class

I am not really gifted at foreign languages. I have a quite good ear for pronunciation, but grammar is my downfall.

High School french was torturous for me, I even took German instead as I got slightly better marks in German in one exam, but as my High School exams show I was actually even worse at German then French!

I've forgotten the names of many of my High School Teachers, but not my french teacher Mrs. Greeney. She would often skip down the aisle of her mobile to the chalk board, and she was known to hit students on the head with the chalk eraser leaving a line of fine white power across the scalp like some kind of dusty Mohawk.

Like most classrooms we sat in rows, 4 students each side of the center aisle and four rows of desks. What made Mrs. Greeney's class different was you would change seats every few weeks.

After every test and pop quiz you would get a new seat assignment based on your result. You would be seated in order from the front row to the back with the 8 front students having the lowest marks in that test. I spent most of my time at seat 9 or 10, struggling not be on the front row.

Everyone became very protective of their position because they knew that the next test was never far away. I say everyone, but I think the back row seat was permanently occupied by Rebecca Anderson who's knowledge of french was unsurpassed (or it might have been Nicola Evans in pole position, I was seated so far away from them that I can barely remember).

Nobody wanted to help each other in French Class. If I help you, you might do better than me in the next test and take my seat. My status depends on your ignorance.

French Class was a microcosm of society. Whenever I used to meet someone new I had to rate them on my scale to see how we compared. Unlike french class however my scale was totally weighted in my favor.

Do they drive a nicer car than me? Then they are worldly, shallow, and don't care about spiritual things.

Do they drive a worse car than me? They obviously have bad credit and can't afford a loan.

My self esteem depended on me seeing myself as better than you.

Over the years I've done a good job of dismantling the lessons of French Class. I've begun to see and value the person God has created me to be without having to minimize other people to do it.

Unfortunately the lesson of the Seating Plan reared it's ugly head again last week. I was on Facebook and I spotted a comment a friend had made. I disagreed so I responded back, then he did, then I did and before I knew it I was in a flame war.

I lay awake that night with my mind racing with all the things I should type and say to defend my position and win the argument. I was going to teach him. Needless to say I didn't sleep well as I didn't like who I was becoming.

I made a conscious decision to step away from the argument, though I shamefully admit that even in doing that I had to leave a parting jab. I've chosen to not read any further responses and I heard that the entire discussion thread has been deleted.

I could have defended my position. I'm OK with people disagreeing with me. What I'm not o.k. with was who I became in that argument. Being right became more important to me than being loving. I minimized the other person and then looked for ways that I could 'keep my seat'. I don't like that part of myself.

I may have left french class, but french class has not left me.

Comparaison n'est pas raison, as they say in France.

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