Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yuck List

When we landed at OHHS 14 seasons ago, we quaked in our boots, we quacked at our students and we quietly dreaded the day that we'd Issue an Order and a Cherub would Disobey. The bane of traditional Classroom Management seminars is the child who refuses to Go Along With the Program; the one who Just Says "No."

Our first Disciplinary Action involved a Latino boy with major attitude. We ordered, he balked. We asked, he ignored. We cajoled, he Could Not Be Convinced. At one point, about 2 weeks into the school year, he went completely Bonkers Bananas and started screaming en EspaƱol. Of course, his vitriol was directed at us. And, yes, the diatribe contained a plethora of profanity. For the Record, we're Tejanas. Our second language--the cuss words, anyway--is Spanish. We hollered something Entirely Inappropriate, about his mother and a few other Unmentionables. He sat down. We got along fine after that.

What we did was wrong (or at least not part of our district's Classroom Management Guidelines), but the lesson we learned was Oh, So Right. We communicate best when we're comfortable; when we Feel That We Belong. But lest we get too comfortable, there's always The Yuck List.

We won't take full credit for coming up with the idea of The List, but will take Kudos for keeping our Cherubs in line with it. The kiddos are, in a word, perezosos--muy, muy lazy. Why write with crystal clarity when you can use an easily accessible cliche? Why choose your words with precision when you can pick an icky adverb instead? Over the years, we've read endless treatises about words to use, words to choose, and words to run away from in terror. In a sense, all of this info came together in one big cacophonous crash when we Started Teaching High School.

We remember the first time a Cherished Cherub referred to a Chemistry test as "gay." Also, the first time a Studious Student called her jammed locker "retarded." Because of their inherent loutishness, laziness, and somewhat limited horizons, kids are caught in a Tangled Web of Hackneyed Parlance. So we put together the Yuck List--34 words and phrases frequently, and boorishly, Overused By Teenagers. The Little Cherubs definitely utilize numerous boring bits of terminology on a daily basis while constantly attempting to write dissertations that reflect personalities that don't suck. There you have it--7 Occupants of The Yuck List in one Pretty Ponderous Sentence.

There's more than one type of Classroom Management for high schoolers. We prefer to engage in interactions that involve diction, not dictators. We teach Strength in Clarity. Those of us who worship at the Altar of The Yuck List don't have behavior issues--often, anyway. Check it out--laminated and Stuck to Our Classroom Wall, cuddled up close to John Belushi, oh so many moons ago. William Zinsser, the Dean of Diction, would be proud. Check out his masterpiece, On Writing Well, for more inspiration.

The “Yuck” List
Definitely; numerous; constantly; boring; sucks; would have to be; individual basis; at this point in time; daily basis; aspect; retarded; gay (unless one is happy or homosexual; never as a disparaging remark); hopefully; impacted (never use as a verb); opportunity;
utilize; starting sentences with gerunds or prepositions: waiting in her room, upon entering, as a result of, etc.; would, should, could, may, might (use sparingly, if at all); seem (it either is or it isn’t); make sure you know the difference between “affect” and “effect”; near future; in terms of; regarding; due to the fact that; hands “feel,” people “think”; try to eliminate that darn word “that”; it is, there are, this is: Don’t EVER start a sentence with them! Nowadays, oftentimes; in today’s society, in society today; general public; the majority of; awesome; throughout; amazing


Amy said...

I'm pretty sure you forgot Ayn Rand. (;

For real, though, the yuck list remains quite useful. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a national awareness of toward. Apparently, people don't care. They'll learn...

Melissa B. said...

Ayn Rand, Britney Spears and Sarah K. (from the Class of 2000) are on the original, laminated list in our classroom but not on the "official" list for publication, because their sins were not over-use but over-saturation. Our Cherubs were tired of Ayn because Donnie wouldn't stop talking about her; tired of Brit for obvious reasons, and Maggie M. put Sarah's name on the list to be a pain. :) We agree with you, though--we supremely detest the usage of towards instead of toward. Hopefully, too.

mybellringers said...

How about adding this year… Do we not know what year we're in? Jeez. And btw, I can hear Nancy channeling through you on some of that list ;-)

Melissa B. said...

My Bellringers: Although I haven't been in touch with Nancy in 25+ years (until recently), I always thought we had a telepathic/karma thang goin' on! What year are we in, anyway?

Clix said...

My pet peeve is coming across any of the unhelpful variants of "thing" when a far more descriptive word or phrase could have been used.

Melissa B. said...

Clix: Or, as they say where we come from, "that thang."


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