Monday, August 17, 2015

Why German Teachers of English Need to Get It Together

My eighth-grader came home from school with a question: "Mom, the teacher asked what the name of a large green space in New York City is, and guess what one girl said?"
"She said The Grand Canyon--but that's not the best part!"
"What's the best part?"
"Tell me the five boroughs of New York."
I told him.
"New Jersey isn't one of them, right?"
"GOD, no!"
But you know what? His teacher told his class--this is, you understand, a Gymnasium class, and a good Gymnasium, too--that New Jersey, snobbishly disregarded by Manhattan and even by Staten Island since time immemorial--that New Jersey really is one of the five boroughs.  She seems to have forgotten all about Queens, since the entire eighth grade class is probably now studying for a test in which they'll list the five boroughs of New York City as:

The Bronx
Staten Island
New Jersey

Once upon a time when I was young, the New York designer Donna Karan's DKNY T-shirts were so hot that The New Yorker ran a cartoon: instead of a svelte, sexy model, a lumpy, schlumpy, overweight matron in unattractive glasses and a do-rag galumphed along in a DKNJ T-shirt.  The caption? Donna Karan's nightmare.

New Jersey never was, and never will be, a part of paradise. Thus spake the New Yorker who had a commute from the Upper West Side to the industrial armpit of NJ for years, enduring a job that amounted to indentured servitude.

Meanwhile, folks, that large green space in the middle of Manhattan is still Central Park. The Grand Canyon isn't even green, my son pointed out . . .  and he's been there.  Smell the coffee, English teachers. And drink it. That English tea just isn't strong enough. Neither is that English accent.


  1. (silently shakes head & rolls eyes in commiseration)
    that said, language education here is still lots better than a good number of other places. :)

  2. Indeed. They do all speak good English, those German Gymnasium kids. But Noo Joisey is its very own Bundesland because New York never wanted to play with it, although sometimes they let it play with what was then the Bridge and Tunnel crowd. . . .