Sunday, July 30, 2006

Communication

I've been preparing for next year's Pre-College English group by examining whether or not to include the typical History of English unit. It is not my favorite to teach; and I suspect it is not the students' favorite to learn. It is, however, interesting how language evolves and changes, but ultimately always holds the ability to communicate.
In a recent post, I commented on the 'uproar' over President Bush's use of a four letter word. Then, during this most recently completed week of summer school, I had a student communicte with me in a very similar fashion. We had difficulty communicating because he was angry and I was not. My ability to get through to him may have been hindered by my inability to call his actions bullsh--.
Would our ability to communicate with our smart a-- students or those little f---ers (a term I heard an elementary school teacher use to refer to his/her students) improve, if we could use the language they use? I mean really, has anyone ever overheard this conversation:

"Hey John, why the f--- didn't you come over this weekend?"
"I was hella busy."
"Man, we did some crazy s---!"
"I heard."
"From who?"
"That little b---- Jill."
"Hey, we better get to class. Mr. Mac's been a real d--- about tardiness."
"I know. That guy needs to get the stick out of his a--."

It reminds me of the comedy set that Bernie Mac does in The Original Kings of Comedy about the word muthahf-----. A great set if you find the current use of cuss words humorous. But in truth, I do wonder if the English language has reached a new point in its evolution. Maybe these words that were once deemed highly offensive are only as offensive as words like piss, dang, darn, and shutup were to previous generations. You can hear words like b---- and a-- on television; and movies drop cuss words like their f----- going out of style b----.
Yes, it is an unconventional thought, and I have no intention to regularly use this vocabulary when I teach. But, I can't help but wonder if it would be more effective, at least in certain situations. The first time I hear a student drop a random F-bomb or any other cuss word, I give the students this talk:
Words are powerful. Cuss words are more powerful. If you over use them, or use them without thought, they lose their power. A well-placed cuss word can have amazing results. The typical classroom setting doesn't present too many opportunities to use them. So save them for when you really need them.

Maybe, I just need to tell them that they need to stop using those f------ word in my classroom otherwise I'm sending their a-- to the principal--who might be a real b---- and call their parents; then the s--- will hit the fan.

4 Comments:

At 9:33 PM , Blogger happychyck said...

That would get their attention! Your closing thought had have been stolen directly from my brain on a bad day.

I agree with you that what was once considered strong language is mild now. It's everywhere, and sometimes it seems like the only refuge from it is in my classroom. No wonder it's so hard for some students to understand that it is not the norm to speak with vulgar language so casually...I'm probably the one who misunderstands what the norm is...

 
At 9:13 AM , Blogger Sara said...

I can only imagine the letters and phone calls of complaint you would receive. Although you may have a good reason for directing these words at some students (to show them exactly what they are doing) the parents will always fire back that kids will be kids, but you are a teacher and should know better. Believe me there were times that I wanted to tell some people in class just how f---ing stupid they were... which is exactly the reason that I always sat in the front. If the people behind me could have seen my face, I wouldn't have needed to say the words, my expression would have said it all.

 
At 12:20 PM , Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Sara,
Really? I couldn't tell! Keep stopping by and giving input, and start your own blog. The world needs more young, smart bloggers.

 
At 3:07 PM , Blogger Spangles said...

Ha ha ha! My assistant principal totally uses those words when she calls parents. "Craig called Ms. S a b----! Can you imagine?" "Ahmed just won't stop using the word f--- in the cafeteria." "Where exactly did Andre learn the word s---?" It certainly addresses the problem. (And I feel her impact is lost by using ---.)

 

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