March 5, 2009
Words better left unsaid
I teach teenagers and there are some words that you just don’t want to say or even think in front of them.
Today’s example is pretty innocuous. We are reviewing for a test over Of Mice and Men and I asked, “What does Lennie wanted to stroke?” I’m sure you can imagine the response I received. The class filled with mostly boys snickered, and even I smiled at the sound of this question. The answer is Curley’s wife’s hair—clearly.
Over the years I’ve had my share of other phrases gone wrong.
When I was a new teacher I had to teach Moby Dick, the classic American novel by Herman Melville. Now there is a story with two words you don’t want to say in front of adolescents: Dick and seaman. I ended up calling them men of the sea because I couldn’t say the words aloud. I usually just called Moby Dick the “great white whale”.
I have since mastered the art of keeping a straight face. The important thing is not to laugh. They don’t teach you this in college, but trust me, laughter only fuels them more.
There is one story, however, that takes the cake. The one story that my family still finds funny and teases me about. The superhero assignment gone wrong. I had the students create an original superhero. One group of bold boys created “MILF Man”.
I’m telling you I was completely ignorant. I stood before the front of the class and read a brief description of each group’s superhero. I came to “MILF Man” and confidently held up the superhero picture that they decorated and read their description. I asked questions, and even though I don’t remember exactly what I asked or what their answers were, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The class laughed a little bit too much.
Don’t worry, my loving husband filled me in and the students were punished. And if you don’t know what MILF means, talk to a teenager.
I think I am going to have to start another list. Things you don’t want to read if you’re a teacher: The paper said something about a party and then “we both ended up, you know.”
Oh, some words are better left unsaid and unread.