This week one of my “students” built a mace out of a ping pong ball, tape, and screws. I’ve noticed “Um no” is a surprisingly successful strategy when teachers demand you give something to them. Pair “Um, no,” up with shoulder hunching like you aren’t going to give the thing up without a fight and it’s yours. Enjoy. The first day he held on to it with the Um no/shoulder hunching strategy, and at the end of the class he was playing around with it to celebrate his victory. He tossed it up in the air really high, but when it occurred to him it might break when it hit the floor, he decided to catch it. Ha. Ha. It’ moments like that that I teach for.
The next day he goes “present?” and he held it out to me, and I took it. I think he likes me because deep down we both know I couldn’t care less what he does, I do think he’s funny. I decided I will totally give it back to him if he asks for it in English. I’m even accepting “present!” for “can I get my hand-made mace back? it took me a long time to make and it helps me relax in class.”