Friday, July 26, 2013

What do you do with bragging students?

I have a fault as a person and as a teacher. I HATE students who constantly, incessantly brag about what they have done or been, what they can do, or how much they know. Logically, I realize that most of the time students who brag like this are self-concious about themselves and brag as a way to increase their feeling of self-worth. But, MAN!! They drive me crazy. I almost always have this need to call them out on it and one-up them. It is such an immature desire and one that I suppress all the time.

However, when someone comes along who tries to one-up a student after they have shared something time and again, sometimes I can't help myself.

Case in point: I have a summer school student who I haven't had before in any of my classes. She is only in 10th grade but taking an 11th grade prep class for college. I get that she is trying to get ahead and she really is remarkable in her different abilities, but she likes to brag to become the center of attention. After six weeks of this, I have had enough when she tries to say that she has eaten monkey brains and insects (she claims she can eat all of them, except for ants...). I ask her when and where she ate monkey brains and she says she ate them in China. OK.....I ask how old she was and she states that she was pretty young but she remembers the flavor and texture. This would have been about 10 years ago and I am by no means an expert in the availability of monkey brains, but this just sounds ludicrous!

hat familiar desire to call her out surfaces and I fight myself, trying to suppress this need to let her know how ridiculous she sounds. I refuse to let it get to me, because honestly, what am I going to do, call her a liar IN CLASS with the other students around me? Absolutely not! But I can't help just taking it to the next level. So I ask her what region of China she was in when she ate monkey brains? She stammered a bit and I started to feel sorry for her and let it go.

Seriously though, how would you handle this? I know that I did this a little bit here and there growing up and while most of my stories are so ridiculous they have to be true, I wonder if people felt this way about me. I traveled throughout my childhood and have eaten some weird and exotic things, met some unusual people (Egyptian donkey trader wanting to trade my father 25 donkeys for me as a wife when I was 15 and the Masaaii warrior wanting to make me his 4th Junior wife when I was 12 are vividly remembered!) and experienced some truly amazing things. But when does it become too much and cross over the line into bragging territory? How can I let students like this know that it rubs people the wrong way and causes them to question their validity? I don't want to hurt their feelings or embarrass them- I really truly don't! However, when you KNOW something a student says is completely wrong, do you correct them?

I don't know, I am at a loss and wondering how everyone else handles this! - I brag simply because I am so much better than you.
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