Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hip Hop

The Boys

My assignment? Mama Kat's Prompt #5: A snappy comeback!

Kids these days. Think they know it all. The teacher says, "Black," they say, "Blue." Teacher says, "White," they say, "Off-white." Every time I make even the slightest reference to anything they might remotely know anything about, the classroom errupts in a murmured chorus: "Oh, yeah. I remember. We did that once. Back in 8th grade. Remember?"

Hands shoot up, whether the child has something substantive to contribute to the conversation, or not.

"Mrs. Scribe? Isn't that, you know, kinda like the time when..."

"Mrs. Scribe? I heard about one guy who, you know, like back in the day..."

I chalk this behavior up to my cherubs' need to know. Even if they don't have the faintest idea, they wish to make all around them think that they do.

Remember: A high school classroom is just a microcosm of the real world. I know you know some know-it-all adults, now, don't you?

The most frustrating~but at the same time funniest~high school student epiphanies often arrive by mistake. And always while they're guessing. This often happens on multiple-choice tests, when the kids are sure the correct answer is "C," only to find out that the teacher has deemed the definitive answer to be "D." And they will bend themselves into also sorts of pretzel-y shapes to prove that I am wrong and that they are correctamundo.

"But Mrs. Scribe! What if Gatsby hadn't gone over to Daisy's house the night before George shot him? Then, wouldn't the answer be 'C'?"

"But Mrs. Scribe! What if Holden had gone to Boston instead of New York after he dropped out of Pencey? Then the answer would be 'C,' for sure!"

Every year, I have at least one cherub who scribbles these "what if's" as addenda on every possible multiple-choice selection, on at least one test. One year, a young woman named Amy tried to justify every answer on every test as the correct one.

Naturally, this behavior has a name. I have deemed it the "Subjunctive Syndrome." For those of you who don't remember your English grammar, we use the subjunctive case for situations that don't really exist. If this-and-such happens, then this might then occur, etc., etc., etc.

Of course, the subjunctive form of "if" is a pie-in-the-sky mentality. A glass half-full reaction, as it were. I, however, always have a response to their "if's, and's & but's."

Mr. Fairway's Uncle Lewie, pictured above (with Mr. F. on the right), was a man of several quaint expressions. Two of his quips always come to mind when my cherubs are clamoring for an extra point or two on a test.

"If if's and but's were candy and nuts, we'd all have a very Merry Christmas."

Or, my favorite:

"If frogs had wings, they wouldn't have to hop."

Shuts them up, every time.

24 comments:

Rosidah Abidin said...

I like the way you handle this situation. It is the first time I have read these quibs. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day.

June Freaking Cleaver said...

I have occasions where I think I married the know it all adult.

Maybe I need to come up with some serendipitous sayings to increase the possibility of silence?

Alicia said...

lol i've never heard those expressions! i'm going to have to remember those!

cat said...

You are such a clever teacher - I swear I never had one like you.

Cheryl said...

I love all the kid's if-then situations for great literature. Yep, if the author had only written that book my way, my answer would be right. Your snappy comebacks are da bomb!

Florida Girl Meets the Midwest said...

Very cute. I enjoyed this little window into your teaching world.

I sometimes hear my dad's quips come out of my own mouth. Funny how that works.

Stopping by from Mama Kat's.

Single and Sane said...

That's hysterical. I'd love to see their faces when you hit them with an Uncle Lewieism!

Steph S. said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by - yep, I'm currently living in Athens, and my husband is a Ph.D. candidate at OU. The journalism school is absolutely AMAZING! I fully encourage your daughter to pursue her dream - OU would be a great place to do it, and Athens is a cute little town :)

I'm not sure if Diego would get along with Pepper... he's a shy boy! Huge but shy and scared... kinda like an elephant :)

Happy July 4th!

Alissa said...

I love that If if's and but's line. Think I'll have to start using it!

Melva said...

Funny. I'm a teacher too and you are so right on! Gotta love teenagers. I'm sure they love your comebacks :)

Andrea said...

I never heard the one about the frog!

Life with Kaishon said...

This made me sort of miss being a teacher. For one second : )

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

I had never heard those expressions either.
Thanks for sharing your teacing methods!
Interesting!
~B xx

Regina said...

Really cool.
Have a great summertime.

Kimi@SoManyKids said...

My youngest son is a giant piles of "what if"s... it makes me entirely crazy and makes me giggle at the same time.

Sarah said...

I like that pretzel line. I can just see the whole class wiggle like a bowl of worms.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

You know I could so relate to this post. Except I did not before have those two come backs. And now I do.

The Blonde Duck said...

I like to say real life is just the fourth grade, but bigger.

quilly said...

I learned the line a bit differently, "If frogs had wings their butts wouldn't bump on the ground." How many points do I get for my version?

Jeanie said...

I knew a man when I was growing up who had a tie with the "candy and nuts" quote on it. I will add this one....If wishes were horses, we'd all be up to our knees in *&#*."

Lucy said...

How nice of you to call it the "Subjunctive Syndrome" I call it the Spoiled Brat syndrome, oh, and I know I have created a couple of monsters too and I think, oh, my what I have done as my mother sits back and laughs!

Susie said...

I love the "shut you up" sayings:-)

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

Awesome teacherness, Scribe!

I've heard the first quip before - I believe my grandfather used to say it. The second is equally useful!

I do believe I used to do the same thing - always questioning and reasoning through school. To a degree I do the same thing now, only I'm more quiet about it ;) Always working out some logistical knot in my noggin though. It's how I roll...

Have a wonderful long weekend, and enjoy your July 4th! We had our July 1st celebrations yesterday, and they were fabulous :)

miss jo said...

That Ernie knew a thing or two about sufferers of SS...I don't ever recall arguing for a higher grade in h.s., but of course that was many moons ago :)....You are lovingly patient with those cherubs....

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