Monday, October 11, 2010

Wooty Woot Woot

In response to a question about how to deal with conflict constructively, a student recently wrote, "ask nicely if you told woot woot woot that wooty woot woot." I will attempt to translate.  Rather than assume that someone is saying negative things about you, ask them nicely what they said, if anything.  As a teacher, reading student work can be one of the most mundane tasks.  Try reading dozens of essays that all attempt to describe the criteria by which someone should receive a key to the city (this was an essay writing prompt for the CAHSEE a few years back).

Strangely though, I find my students' work to be fascinating.  At times, I am filtering through for clues as to what students gained from my instruction.  This process can inject my instruction with more purpose and motivation when I see examples of student work that reveal that students are moving along in their writing or thinking.  Or it can be equally as disheartening when it appears that my instruction has had little to no impact.  And then, in my more centered moments, I can just approach their work with curiosity, seeking to have insight into my teaching and figuring out what needs to be retaught and in what ways.

And then, my students' writing provides moments of hilarity, as in "wooty woot woot."

I laughed when I read this.  In part, I am a fan of this expression, "wooty woot woot."  It just has a more positive ring than "blah blah blah," which hints of disdain for what the other person has said.  "Wooty woot woot" is one expression in a long line of innovation championed by young people.  Some phrases may last and others may go extinct - losers in a linguistic survival of the fittest.  Maybe one day, more mainstream North Americans will use the phrase "wooty woot woot," forgetting that they once passed judgment on young people of color as ignorant for their ways of expression. 

Yet even as I'm laughing, I wonder about the state of the English language.  I'm all for creativity and innovation, but I'm also a traditionalist.  I want my students to master the fundamentals.  I want them to know how to use a semi-colon and add apostrophes in the right location.  I want them to know the rules, so then they can break them consciously and with purpose.

1 comment:

  1. love this! its true, such inventiveness once we depart from grammar and the king's english....