From the “Really? REALLY?” files…we have this story of a Danville, MA principal who has auto-called parents of his students to warn them of inappropriate language that would, if used, lead to suspensions. What, pray tell, was the foul language that warranted this level of concern? What new profanity hath the internet and youthful disinhibition wrought? Should I place an age-rating or an adult-content warning on this post?
That’s the word. Meep.
As in “the only word ever uttered by Beaker on the Muppet Show,” or
“The name of the alien in the Phineas and Ferb Episode by the (almost) same name?”
As a former kid who would have found this funny, I can see the random joy to be found in a word like this. Meep has a certain vague quality that allows for multiple usages. The fact that adults get really fired up about it? That’s just a bonus. The fact that its usage could trigger a robo-call and national press? Double bonus. More importantly, though, I think this story speaks volumes about the ugly little secret a lot of us don’t want to admit.
A lot of people are afraid of adolescents.
It’s easy to believe only the worst of them, to assume that every utterance or gesture to be a gang sign or drug reference. The media feeds this fear by showing us only the teens who wreak mayhem on their communities- or by painting squeaky-clean pictures of those who don’t reinforce that stereotype. It can become hard to imagine that adolescents are complete people, capable of being whimsical and funny and silly for no reason at all.
I think that’s what makes folks like us different. By taking the risk and getting to know our students well, we aren’t afraid of the Meep. We can laugh about it with the relaxed knowledge that it’s just silliness. We don’t need to be afraid of our students because we know them for the complex, messy, totally human creatures that they are.
So on that note, I leave you with this. Have nice weekend!
A round of applause for you. I have been saying this for a long time. Just because a child wears skulls on their clothes doesn’t mean they are a mass murderer. I’ve seen skulls in pink with bunnies and butterflies on small children’s clothing. This is one example of a passing phase that helps teens identify themselves as different. That is, until it hits the preteen clothing at Walmart . . . which means they have to create something new to identify with! What creativity!
At what point do we as educators become “stupid”. Is it when we get more advanced degrees, drink too much coffee, walk that halls looking for students with out hall passes, when we lose the ability to trust or respect, become too old, lose touch with the real world? I am not sure but I do know one principal that we could make run around the school or parking lot looking for “students” just by talking when he was close. He died of a heart attack during pre school workshops when he was in his 40’s-wound too tight for too long. He was not stupid just in the wrong field. I am sure that the “meep” would have caused him to write letters home, just as “that sucks” or that a butter knife violate safe schools laws would have been reflected in his actions.
I am in a 9th and 10th grade Humanities class today, subbing for an ill teacher. The group has been discussing civil rights, social change and today was to read a poem “The Masque of Anarchy” by Shelly and write reflections about certain aspects of the poem. When the students were finished one student suggested that they prepare an interpretive dance for the instructor when he returned. For 45 minutes, this student lead activity generated a dance that reflects sections of the poem. All the students participated,not the 85% required in public schools, but 100%! They cooperated, listened to each other, corrected each other’s behaviors and I simple sat and watched. I always worried that perhaps technology might totally change the role of the teacher in the classroom but now I realize that the students will change the role of teachers in the classroom. It makes me proud to be an educator (even though I had very little to do with this).