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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Evidence that, just when you think you're imparting knowledge, the truth could be very different

The class was faffing about, taking its time, so I said, in my best Bored Teacher Monotone, 'Right, then.  One needs to PICK up one's pen, then one needs to OPEN one's book, then one needs to WRITE the title.'

In future, I'll just say it like it is.  One kid put her hand up.  'Are you talking in Shakespeare?'

Ever get the feeling the world has moved on, leaving you far, far behind?

Fran had always thought the girl in the front row with the screwed-up face had just had wind.
 It turned out that
she hadn't understood a word Fran had said since 2009.


I told another class this week that a character in a novel was being 'duplicitous'.  I did explain the meaning and was pleased that I was expanding their vocabularies.  But one of the students asked me whether I could just learn some slang at the weekends so that they could understand me better.

'But,' I said, 'my professional duty is to extend your individualised lexicon, not encourage you in the use of non-standard varieties of linguistic choices.'

Am I not pitching things right?  There were more wrinkled foreheads in that classroom than at a support group for patients whose Botox therapy had failed.

What would you call failed Botox therapy anyway?  No-tox, or maybe Too-tox, or 'so-so-tox' or Too-low-tox, or ....

I will stop.  Life really is too short for this guff.

14 comments:

  1. Perhaps if you told your students you were speaking in cursive.....?

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  2. I'd give up the speaking in Shakespeare , if I were you , just go straight to the Chaucer . You can bring it up to date by integrating rap cadences .
    And as for the correct term for Botox failure? What's the opposite of bo-dacious ?

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  3. I laughed and laughed at this one. It was so reminiscent of the conversations I have with G***** (in my class). Every teacher should have one, however you would appear to have a room full.

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  4. U jst gotta talk street, innit, bruv?

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  5. I started to read the first paragraph of your post and found myself sitting up straight, with my arms folded...

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  6. Yes, the world left me behind too long ago to think about.

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  7. Reminded me of the army sergeant who informed those in his charge that there was to be a talk on Keats. Silence followed his announcement and, after eyeing the motley bunch, the sergeant finally shook his head and sighed, "I don't suppose any of you lot knows what a Keat is, though, do you?"

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  8. Husband has PhD in Medieval & Renaissance English which he completed when daughter was about 10 and she therefore became aware of the difference in the language used. Her English teacher when she (daughter) was 13 was amused to relate that when the class was 'doing' the Ancient Mariner' a boy in the class said 'Miss, I can't understand this, it's in Old English', whereupon a daughter piped up in a quiet bored tone 'Stupid boy, that's not Old English, it's not even Middle English'.....

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  9. I shrieked with laughter while reading this, Fran. Oh yes.
    I remember reading 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea as a setwork when I was 12, and having to look up every word we did not understand. I think it took a week to get past page one. But the vocabulary went through a massive expansion phase at the same time!
    And then, remember, I taught 16 year olds who did not understand the words equator, hemisphere, latitude or longitude. Groan.

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  10. Probably my lowest point in that area was when I'd spent a period with a class discussing Norman MacCaig's lovely poem "Toad" and at the end of it, one girl said, "But what's a toad?" I hadn't actually explained that.

    Keep going! I used to keep using the word "pejorative" (chosen fairly randomly) so that all my classes eventually knew what it meant. 38 years of teaching; one word learnt by all.

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  11. There is always time in my life for your type of guff. Come to think of it, what is guff?

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  12. He has a point, what is it?

    We once sang in 'old' English and were lucky to have a scholar in our choir who could tell us how to say the words. Beautiful voice he had, and how much more melodious the old English compared to innit?!

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  13. Next time you get that, bite your thumb at them. You could inspire a new street craze without them even realising they are paying tribute to the Bard.

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  14. A student asked you if you could learn some slang?!! I think you should soldier on, Fran. The country needs you!

    I always remember one A level business studies lesson when I was at school. I was in there doodling (not sure what everyone else was doing - working I expect) and a young teacher skidded in from the general uproar in the corridor and asked our class what the word 'chief' meant - was it good or bad? We all laughed and explained it was bad, and he skidded out again shouting at whoever called him a chief! Teehee.

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