Ladies and gentlemen, today’s post is on everyone’s favorite topics: culture, cursing, and cursive. Ok, maybe not cursive.
In a sixth grader’s mind, the moment he steps out of school, the teacher ceases to exist. That’s why they are so surprised to see us in the supermarket. You eat? they think to themselves. What’s more surprising is to find out that a teacher has a life.
A little over a week ago on a Friday afternoon a student asked me what I do on the weekend:
“Well, at about 3:45, I’m getting in my car, driving to Austin, and seeing Kanye tonight.”
“Wait, you listen to Kanye?” said another student, shocked.
“Yeah. I’m gonna see Ye tonight at ACL.”
Boom. Minds just blew.
I Write My Curses
One thing I love about middle school is cussing—it’s hilarious. The kids are old enough to know what all the run-of-the-mill cuss words are, but they are young enough that when they use them it’s like a toddler shooting a 12 gauge. For one, they don’t know how to spell them. I see things like “die fucer” and “stupid bich” written on the bathroom walls. And when they hear it from a teacher, it knocks them back.
Now, I don’t make it a habit to curse in front of my kids. I don’t really curse that much anyway. There have been a few times when I’ve almost dropped a bomb, like the time I said, “What the fuu–art fig newton” or the time I mouthed, “Oh sh*t” in front of the deaf student who could read lips (I could tell from her smirk that she caught it). But the best is when they hear it for real.
Today I nonchalantly took up a note from two girls in one of my classes as I walked by. I placed it on my desk and kept teaching without skipping a beat. At the end of class, I called the two girls up to my desk, opened the note, and read it aloud:
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing bitch,” I read with emphasis.
The two girls were mortified to hear their note read out loud, blushing and turning their eyes to the ground. And that is what makes it fun.
The district in which I teach requires that students learn cursive in second and third grade, and then—nothing. By the time they reach sixth grade, there is only a faint memory of those swirling looping letters from primary school that most all of the english speaking world used in written language (not to mention cursive exists in other languages as well). In fact, block-letter print wasn’t taught widely in schools until the 1920s. Now our kids can’t even write their own names in cursive.
So my counterpart and I decided to revive the lost art and set it upon ourselves to teach it. We’re teaching D’Nealian script because it’s a pretty easy script to teach students who are used to print. You might remember that old school stuff from your sweet 3rd grade teacher. Or probably not. In any case, we make our students write their warm-ups in cursive. They moan and complain, but when they’re done they show their writing to me and ask what I think.
I guess we got our swagger back, truth.