Confiscation Station

It isn’t unusual for a high school teacher to come across a range of unwanted items in the classroom;  love letters that never make it to the recipient, cruel drawings of bullied students, plastic bottles stopped midway through being lobbed across the room… flip knife…  FLIP KNIFE?!  Indeed, today it seems I have reached the pinnacle in my confiscation adventure – in a Matthayom 1 class no less (so that would be a group of fifty 12 year olds!)

I had left the classroom for no more than one minute to grab some talcum powder to use in a game (OK, so leaving the classroom was the main mistake here – lesson learned).  When I walked back in to the room I could see a boy flashing a knife around; not really threateningly but in a look at me I’m the big man with my knife kind of way.  When the students clocked that I was back in the room but before I had the chance to say anything or make my way over to take it, the knife disappeared into the fifty strong crowd.  Accusations and denials were made but there was no sign of the knife reappearing.  Every eye was on me.  The class had gone eerily quiet (a complete rarity in a farang teacher’s classroom).  I had to win this battle.  So, I refused to teach until the knife was handed over.  No knife.  Students denying any knowledge of it.  Ah, so now you’re lying to me too?  Great.  In the end it took me getting one of our Thai coordinators to come into the classroom for the knife to be handed over.  Class was cancelled and the rest of the period was spent sitting in silence.  But that is as far as the punishment will go.  A free period.  A break from studying.  No phone call home, no mark on the school records.

It’s crazy to think that something that has a custodial sentence in the UK results in not even a slapped wrist over here.  I’ve witnessed students getting the cane for things that in my opinion are far less serious.  The boy said that he had the knife in school to show his friends, because it was beautiful; but in the wrong hands even a beautiful knife can be deadly.  Having seen one of my fellow teachers get mugged at knifepoint in broad daylight, not ten minutes away from this school, I know how real the threat of a knife can be.  Sometimes things just don’t make sense over here.

But hey, it was a bit of drama to spice up an otherwise run of the mill Tuesday!Image