Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An opportunity wasted.

The other day, one of the students in aftercare needed me for something.

"Mr. McLean!" she yelled from another room.

I know that I've only been a teacher for a very short while, but seriously, how can anyone ever get over the power trip of being called their dad's name?

This handsome man is brought to you by  Derek McLean Consulting
It was a girl who was being tutored by Katie, one of the loyal followers of this blog. The student was working on geography homework in a nearby room, and she apparently had a question that only I, in my infinite wisdom, could answer.

"I have a question about Canada," she said as she ran up to me.

Help a curious student from the South learn more about Canada? Okay!

"Fire away," I responded.

She showed me a map of North America. Her assignment was to locate coordinates on the world map, and report what was nearby. Her calculations planted her here:

"What city is this, Mr. McLean?"

Fear swept over me. As a Canadian, I have a humble pride in my country, though I usually make fun of it. I also tend to thump my chest about how rad Canada is when I'm around Americans. But hell if I know anything above the 50th parallel.

I stammered. "Well, you know...um, I think it could be... Okay let me think." Whitehorse. Yellowknife. Yellowknife starts with a Y. It's not in the Yukon, which also starts with a Y. So it must be in the North-West Territories. Got it. "It could be Yellowknife. Let's take a look on Google Maps."

Quick as a flash I access the internet, and zoom in on the area. Yellowknife, it turns out, is north of that very big lake, not south.

"So what's near that spot?" she asked.

Silence filled the room. Dejected, I turned to her. "Nothing. There's nothing there. Tundra."

"Ok, thanks Mr. McLean! I'll just put 'Nothing' as the answer."

What a fine lesson in Canadian geography. A chance to sing of the magnificence of our confederation, the beauty of our landscape, the superiority of all things Canada. For all intents and purpose, however, I reinforced the American image that Canada = a few major cities and an endless winter wasteland.

Incidentally, it seems that the spot she pinpointed is a body of water called Tortuous lake. Charming.


  1. What a handsome guy your father is.

  2. lol^

    and woo canada tundra!! i love having a huge country that isn't even close to fully developed.. then again, who'd wanna live where it's night for a month?


  3. I told her to put "frozen wasteland," but she refused and actually wrote in Yellowknife so that her teacher wouldn't think she was hadn't looked it up.

  4. I may have had similar situations with people quizzing me on Canadian trivia in England, but of course, not in such a cute manner.