British Columbia

Paul Bae's book 'You suck, sir:' Tales from a Vancouver classroom teacher

"I found the episodes happening in the classroom so funny, I couldn't keep it to myself"

Paul Bae recounts the time Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau subbed for him

Paul Bae is a Vancouver teacher turned stand up comedian, turned teacher again. For years he's kept a journal of interesting and funny exchanges he's had with students, which have been compiled into a book titled You Suck, Sir. (Supplied)

When Paul Bae first started teaching, one of his SFU faculty advisors offered him this survival tip: to keep a journal of every day events as something to look back on during some of his worst days.   

So for 11 years he did.

"I found the episodes happening in the classroom so funny, I couldn't keep it to myself," said the Vancouver comedian, who has compiled them into a book. 

"You Suck, Sir" is a hilarious collection of conversations with students from Paul Bae's years in public school classrooms. (Supplied)

The title, You Suck, Sir, actually comes from one of his earliest experiences in the classroom. 

"You suck, sir"

As a student teacher, Bae made the unpopular decision to assign his students with homework, something few other student teachers had chosen to do.

"The someone, under his breath, but I could hear it, he goes, 'Ugh, you suck.' 
"I stopped in my tracks. I turned around, I go, 'Excuse me?!'"
"He goes, 'Oh, sorry, you suck, sir.'
"I walked quickly back to my desk. I wrote it down in my journal. I said, 'Oh, this will be funny one day. Not right now. I'm just pissed off at that kid.'"  

Keep reading for more excerpts from Bae's book. 

On the time Justin Trudeau subbed for him:

I had just returned from a three-day absence.
Student: "Sir, can you get that substitute teacher in for you next time you're sick?"
Bae: Was he that good?
Student: "He was so dreamy!"
The rest of the girls in the class nod enthusiastically.
Bae: What do the guys think?
A boy at the front: I guess he was pretty good looking.
Bae: I mean his teaching.
Student: Oh, it was all right.

On his smooth-talking students:

Student: Sir, nice shirt.
Bae: Thanks.
Student: You have a keen eye for fashion.
Bae: Well, my girlfriend got it for me.
Student: Well then, you have great taste in women.
Bae: Do you need an extension on your homework?
Student: And a mind reader too!

On why he does it:

"When you've been in there a few decades, I can imagine it being so crushing to the spirit, especially when you're trying to teach, and your building's falling apart, and you don't have the right tools, you don't have the right textbooks, and the funding's going down.

In Vancouver, we found out in September, we've got to pay for parking in our own lot. It can be dispiriting."

But Bae says reminders like these, of the candid and genuine interactions between teacher and student, can work to rekindle his and others' passion for teaching.

To hear the full interview with Paul Bae, listen to the audio labelled: You suck, sir.


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