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23 October 2012

Teenage Girls are my Kryptonite*

A couple of days ago, my language centre asked me to accompany them on a little trip to a local school, where I'd be assisting with exam invigilation. This was not my idea of a fun way to spend 4 hours of my day, but I had said yes in a moment of weakness and couldn't go back on it. 

So I headed over to the centre in the morning and got ready to leave with my supervisor and a couple of other colleagues. I found out on the way there that the language centre administers these Cambridge Pre-Tests to check high school students' English level. No certificates would be issued and the grades would have no real use. Gesture of goodwill or waste of time? I'd soon find out.

One thing immediately struck me about the school as we entered the building: there was a separate entrance for girls. Whether this was for convenience sake, the girls' department just happened to be on that side of the building, or whether they were segregating the sexes, I'm not sure. I wasn't willing to ask for fear of a) being branded as liberal/feminist/therootofevil and b) finding out that segregation was an issue in Amman.

I digress. So we find our classroom, distribute the exam papers and my supervisor explains the first exam booklet. The first 20 minutes went by easily enough. The girls got on with the paper. Next, listening. Poor stereo sound made for an uncomfortable 45 minutes of girls' sighing and, wait for it, conferring with each other on the answers. Right there in front of me. No amount of "Ladies, this is an exam, please no talking" and its variations could stop what had begun.

They could smell my fear. It's as if they KNEW this was my first time invigilating for this type of exam. They KNEW I wasn't Jordanian. They KNEW I was different. And they latched on to that. The target had been identified and all that was left was to launch a rocket attack. And attack they did. First the innocent questions, "Miss, I don't understand the question". Then, "Miss, what does this word mean?" (if I told you I'd be telling you the answer, love). Soon, "Miss, we don't know how to solve these problems". "Miss, we're tired, we can't think anymore." "Miss, I need to throw up". Give them an inch. 

Yes I know that the world is against you dear Teenager and no one understands your pain and you are a victim and the exam is out to kill you. Oh the drama! I suggested to students to take a nap, not to answer any more questions, anything to get them to shut up. But alas, that was not to be the case. My nerves were in a fragile state. I could easily lose it with them, but what would I gain? With hindsight, I should've torn up a few exam papers, that would've taught them a lesson. Or asked one or two of them to leave the class. But I've been a teenager, the prospect of being kicked out of class with a friend sounded kinda amazing. So I chose to torment myself instead.

Unfortunately, it only got worse when we started the next section of the exam, "the Use of English". Suddenly they couldn't think - they couldn't complete a gap fill exercise. The girls who were quiet just minutes before were joining in the madness and matters just escalated. Girls kept insisting that questions were incorrect, so how could they choose the correct answer? I'm proud to say I didn't plead with them but had my colleague not come in during that section of the exam, who knows what I would have done. You see, there were a few students who were especially disruptive, and I just didn't know how to do deal with it. 

Being a teeneager girl is difficult at the best of times - puberty, friends back-stabbing you, your once lean thighs suddenly looking like Beyonce's, etc. I did feel sorry for them having to sit an exam for over three hours without rest. But not as sorry as I felt for myself. I was moved to a different class, and they were much, much better behaved. So maybe I was just unlucky. Still, I was overjoyed when we packed up and headed back to the language centre.

And by the time I started teaching my normal English class, I felt like the mother who goes over to her friend's house and her friend's children is just so out of control such that by the time the mother gets home she welcomes her own children into her arms and thanks God for her little angels. 


*I'm sure teen boys are too but thankfully I have no proof 


  1. Oh my gosh! How scary! I'm impressed you kept your cool and didn't a)lose it, b)plead with them.

  2. I realise that this isn't the main part of your story, but LOL about the Beyonce and thighs comment! :)

  3. u should tear their exam papers...they need to learn to a) get their act together or b) use their beyonce thighs to bag a rich husband looool


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