Saturday, May 22, 2010

Macy from Maize on the Adult-ifying Power of the Curse.

I don't do it every day, but I curse in class.

Oh noes! Oh yes.

Why do I do this? I do it because I could never get away with it when I taught high school. I do it to make it easier for me to teach -- it's simply part of my everyday vocabulary. I curse. A lot. And to take out something that easily comes to my tongue when I'm trying to give real life scenarios off the top of my head is really difficult to do. I do it because it makes my class just a little funnier/more authentic. I do it to share a tiny bit of camaraderie with the students.

But most of all I do it to make students realize that college is a place for grownups. There are reasons it isn't exactly proper to curse in a kindergarten class. There are reasons it isn't allowed in middle and high school. There's also a reason people give you nasty looks when you say it out in public, but I always hated those fuckers anyway. Back to my point. Where cursing is allowed -- not generated TOWARD anyone but as a part of the vocabulary -- is considered "adult" space. So in using this language I give my students an automatic message that they are in an adult space and they better damn well act like an adult, because that's exactly what I expect.

The first couple of times I let it slip they tend to freak out. Not in the throwing bibles that they got from the creepy evangelist on their way into class kind of freak out but the OH MAH GAWD did she just SAY THAYT???!?!?!1? kind of way. There are giggles, snickers, whispered comments. And then I curtly, quickly explain to them why I did so, that it wasn't an accident, and move on with discussion. They get the hint pretty quickly and while few of them join me over on the cursing side of the line, they accept it and start acting a little more like the adults I expect them to be in the process.

So what would I do if this was my student. Well, first I'd ask if the statement was directed negatively at me or was somehow incorrect and something that I personally needed to correct, i.e. Ms. X is going to fuck up my GPA. See, this is incorrect. The student is fucking up the GPA, not the teacher. So it passes that test in terms of whether I would say anything.

If it were my student in the hallway, on their own time, it seems rather idiotic to get into their conversation. Just proves you were eavesdropping and that you give a fuck about what they think, which you shouldn't. So no, I wouldn't get in his face, even to make a simple comment like "Come see me and we can talk." More than likely I'd make a comment the next class period reminding them that they should come to my office if they'd like help with their papers or have questions/concerns about their grade. If I was really upset by it, I'd email the kid directly.

So this Ms. Pyle. First, it seems like she thinks she's teaching in a monastery. Honestly, I think everybody in this day and age could use a little more respect but screaming at a student because they cursed outside of your class is just over the line. I understand that sometimes you just snap but seriously, have a xanax, slurp down a few strawberry margaritas and tackle life after that. And while it's good to see the school stand up for the instructor for once, everyone knows there are certain professors and instructors that are just bat-shit, ones that propose the stupidest things or who have a Napoleon complex. This was more about her feeling defensive about the grade that was given and whether the student thought he deserved it than whether said kid cursed in the hallway.