Odd Job: Taking continuing education courses
Pay: I was not paid for these hours, but this was a requirement in order to keep my job which does pay me
Someone recently asked me if doing odd jobs was my only income, which seemed like a strange question considering that my earnings from the last four weeks’ posts totaled to $79, a bikini, and 26 comic books. Because that doesn’t quite cover expenses, I have multiple jobs I do from week to week, but I’ve shied away from writing about them. Crafting blog posts about those experiences using my go-to sources of humor – criticizing my employers and expounding upon my gross incompetence – strikes me as a good way to get fired.
So when I was hired to work ten hours a week at an after-school program with 1st and 2nd graders, I kept it mostly off the site. Though, considering that my boss reads this column and so far has not objected to the picture of me in a bikini, my enthusiasm for gambling, or all my colorful sperm donor jokes, it’s not really clear just what it would take to get fired from working with small children.
But, doing my work at the school this week, an opportunity arose for a post that wouldn’t require me to criticize anyone or reveal how bad I am at my job. Everyone in the program is required to take continuing education classes. Courses meant to make us better instructors and caregivers.
At least, that’s the idea. Unfortunately, a lot of those hours come in the form of online classes that read like childcare for the brain-dead.
They consist of a one-hour narrated slide show telling you information I sincerely hope you already knew, then a quiz covering the key points, asking brain busters like “Poor quality child care is a threat to children’s healthy social-emotional development. True or false.” Teachers who get at least 70% of the questions right, get a printable certificate saying they’ve fulfilled a certain portion of their required number of hours.
Curious how you’d do on this MENSA-level exam? My favorite questions are below in bold, along with my comments in regular font.
Which of the following are signs of adverse reactions to medication?
a) Difficulty Breathing
d) Nausea or vomitting
f) All of the above
Correct answer: f
If there is even one person out there who was hired to care for children without knowing this going in, we need to blow up our entire education system. Who is giving a kid medication, then witnessing that same kid break out in a rash and start vomiting all over the room as he gasps for air, thinking, “Huh. I wonder what caused that. It couldn’t possibly be the perscription drugs I just gave him. Well, whatever it is, I’m sure he’ll get over it,” then going back to what he was doing before?
What should you do with unused medication?
a) Flush it down the toilet
b) Return it to the parent
c) Throw it in the trash
d) Save it for another child who might need it
Correct answer: b
That there is even a chance of someone selecting d is proof that this conservation thing has gone too far. Perhaps the only thing more frightening than a teacher who doesn’t think vomiting, head aches and shortness of breath are red flags is one who thinks that that one student’s unused steroidal asthma medication is worth hanging onto in case another kid has a tummy ache.
Which of the following is NOT a common reason why children engage in conflict with their peers?
b) Limited social skills
c) Unmet needs
d) Concern for the feelings of others
Correct answer: d
Thus unseating centuries of adolescent thought that the school bully pounds little Jimmy into oblivion everyday because Jimmy has been looking a little glum lately and the bully’s worried about him.
BMI charts can be used to help determine overweight and obesity in children. Obesity is defined as having BMI levels:
a) Higher than the 85th percentile
b) At or above the 95th percentile
c) At or above the 75th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile
d) Obesity cannot be plotted on a BMI chart
Correct answer: b
Let’s overlook the horrific grammatical structure of “Determine overweight in children,” and move onto the implications of this answer. In the lesson, we learned that the percentage of young people who are obese has tripled since 1980, which can only lead me to one conclusion: That I don’t understand the word percentile. Someone being at or above the 95th percentile in weight means that they are among the most overweight 5% of Americans, right? Well, that means that the percentage of people who are obese cannot increase at all, let alone triple. If the percentage of Americans who are among the top 5% tripled, that would mean that 15% of Americans are now among the top 5%.
Some of the consequences associated with obesity include:
b) High blood pressure
c) Gallbladder disease
d) Impaired balance
e) All of the above
Correct Answer: e
I’m not sure how I feel about teaching kids from early childhood that if someone is discriminating against them based on how they look, they should radically change to avoid criticism. We are instilling the mindset that the problem is with them and not the person doing the discriminating. I can only imagine the long-term ramifi-
Wait a second. Gallbladder disease?! As in the disease you get in your 60′s? I have never once had a parent tell me, “Well Andy wasn’t feeling too well, and he is a bit overweight, so we thought it could be gallbladder disease.” Are there not any consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle that could manifest before kids hit age 50? How about diabetes?
And who was the guy trying to figure out four really harsh consequences of childhood obesity that just said, “Fuck it, I’m going with impaired balance?” All kids have impaired balance. They’re kids. I was stick-thin when I was ten and couldn’t walk five feet without crashing into something.
Teachers have a wide array of websites they can choose from to fulfill their hours, and they tend to choose the easiest ones. The ones they can listen to in the background as they clean their apartment, then answer a few no-brainers and call it a day. I assume that the websites, who charge for these courses, provide these lowest-common-denominator classes because they are a business and we lazy teachers are their consumer.
The lesson, as always: It’s all about the money.
A lesson so obvious that they’ll probably end up making an online course about it.
-  Though after five months of working there, I’d have to imagine the cat’s out of the bag on that one. ↩
-  If high school taught us anything, it’s that the answer is always e) all of the above. Or d) a and b but not c. Teachers loved that shit. ↩
-  One of an alarming number of spelling and grammar mistakes on a website responsible for educating educators. ↩
-  Though if the mathematicians of the world made a one-time exception to how percentages work, it would be to quantify just how fat this country has become. After all, this just happened. An ice cream sundae with both bacon crumbles and a slice of bacon. Why? Because it’s America goddamnit. ↩
-  Note to my boss if you’re still reading: I would never do that. I hate cleaning my apartment. ↩
In some but not all articles, names or identifying characteristics or individual lines of dialogue have been changed to protect identities or because remembering exactly how things happened is hard. But in every case, an effort was made to maintain the integrity of these events that did indeed actually happen.
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