Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Stepford Children Use "Hackneyed" Correctly In Sentence. Film At 11.

My freshmen began the school year by creeping me out.

It is not unnatural for students to want to please the teacher. But a whole class that did exactly as it was told?

We have "Academic Support" at the end of each day - a sort of directed study hall. The kids get help with homework, make sure they are organized before they leave. We provide day planners, "agendas", to each student at the beginning of the year as a means to help them with their organizational skills (it also provides a convenient place to make them carry the student handbook and discipline code around). So, on the first day of school, when I asked the kids to take out their agendas for me to check I was shocked when all the students not only took out their perfectly completed agendas - some of them even asked me to initial in them that I'd seen it, so they could show their parents they'd done what they were supposed to! This never happens! There is generally grumbling and vague threats on my part before most of them will actually put anything in there. I had a class full of Stepford children. Unnatural and oddly willing to please.

I've been feeding my freshmen a steady diet of Wordly Wise, a vocabulary workbook, since the beginning of the school year. At first, they hated it. They have language based learning disabilities, so the idea of having new and unfamiliar words crammed down their necks had been about as welcome as mandatory flogging. But now they are into the routine and have become very competitive. They will try to use the words in random conversation with varying degrees of success: "This class is humdrumming me to death!" Today one particular student was fixated on the episode of South Park with the kids on the Ricki Lake type show that kept saying "Whatever! It's my life! I'll do what I want!" in this bizarro Cartman voice. By about 7th period this had gotten very tired. Finally, one of the other boys shouted to the kid, "Omigod! [Name of Student] stop it! That's gotten so hackneyed!"

Hackneyed (adj.) - tired, overused, out of fashion

We hadn't reviewed the word in 3 weeks. He just blurted it out. I was overjoyed! ...and mildly fearful. Either what I'm doing in the classroom is really working...

...or they've just updated this kid's motherboard.