Maybe that cool April Fools’ prank isn’t so cool?

This is me trying on a curmudgeon suit.

On the grand scale of things it’s certainly not a huge deal but I sometimes feel uncomfortable reading about teachers pranking their students on April Fools’ Day. The specific type of prank that gives me this strange feeling is the old chestnut where the teacher gives a previously unannounced quiz/test/assignment.

Disclaimer: I have done this many times in the past. 

april fool

 

This sort of prank bugs me because it’s such a flex. It feels like a power game, however unintentional. It reads to me like the teacher is saying something like:

“I have all this power over you and I’m in a position to use it as capriciously as I feel like. You are at my whim and you have do to whatever I tell you to.”

Maybe you don’t see it like this and consider it just a bit of fun but I wonder how students feel when the announcement is made. Education is often arbitrary enough and I’d rather not play up this aspect.

Here in Korea when grades are of such importance I can imagine students might freak out at first and that the big reveal that it’s April Fools’ Day would not really be worth it. Even if we (especially as EFL teachers) think we are sharing cultural aspects I have to wonder if it’s worthwhile trade off.

The other aspect of this fake quiz (or whatever) prank that catches my interest is that it seems to be teachers who might otherwise sing the praises of student autonomy or affective filter who do this type of prank. As above, I don’t think it’s a major issue but I do think it’s worth thinking about the impact such pranks might have on students’ psychology (even just for a moment) and the impact on group dynamics.

I am willing to admit I am overthinking this and being a stick in the mud. That said, I’m done with this type of prank. I might still leave room for flying penguins,  spaghetti trees, however.

Anyway, the joke is on me because April Fools’ Day falls on a Sunday this year.

I’m not a complete curmudgeon as I can appreciate the comedy in this prank:

 

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