Plot Twist: The Internet Isn’t Just For Arguing

Mucous. Feces. Urine. Flatulence. Purulent.

All of these words are the technical names for words that we use in our everyday speech in a colloquial way.

Most of us know this. Most of us know that the colloquialisms we use in place of these words aren’t the actual or technical terms for these things. Most of know that if we were in a classroom or seminar where any of these things were broached (another word for brought up), they’d likely not be referred to by their colloquial names, but by their technical names.

So, you can imagine my befuddlement (that’s another word for confusion) when I came across the following graphic (that’s another word for picture) on my Facebook timeline.

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I clawed (another word for scratch) my tegument (another word for scalp) and wondered if we are really at the point now where academic language in an academic textbook used in an academic setting is “pretentious” and “inaccessible.”

Let’s start with pretentious. No. It’s an ACADEMIC textbook. Those of us who know about code-switching understand that you don’t present yourself the same way in all settings. When you go in for an interview, you shake the interviewer’s hand, you don’t hug them or fist bump them.

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In a book on language arts, you aren’t going to get, “Timmy was chillaxin’ on the block with his homies when his mama told him to bring his narrow behind inside.”

Sure, that may be how the writer of the textbook speaks when he or she is at home around their friends and family but since the purpose of a language arts textbook is to apprise (another word for inform) the reader of standard English grammar, the writer instead offers, “Timmy was relaxing with his friends outside of his house, when his mother angrily demanded that he come back inside.”

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Pretentious would be me talking to my friend and telling her that I was clawing my tegument.

Inaccessible? Well, I don’t think it’s an unfair assumption that if you end up in college-level physiology, you have an above-average reading and comprehension level. Further, we live in an era that has thesaurus.com and dictionary.com and both are accessible, literally at your fingertips.

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We are fortunate enough to live in an era where you can Google almost anything and before you can blink your eyes twice, 92387877499937489 results of varying degrees on the topic you Googled will populate before your eyes.

Does that makeup for systemic inequalities in education? No. But let’s not overplay this thing either. If you need information, you can find it for free these days.

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Now, here’s the part that I’m known for: shade.

I will never not laugh at this generation who will engage in days-long debates with strangers over -ist, -phobic, gender, agender, sex, asexual, demisexual, pre-sexual, post-sexual, he, she, ze, thee, thou, fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, tall privilege, short privilege, etc…

but want to boo-hoo and tee-hee because an ACADEMIC textbook uses ACADEMIC words to explain ACADEMIC concepts (another word for thought or idea).

How sway? Just like you found a resource to convince you that men can have periods and babies, you can figure out what that word you’re not familiar with means.

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Matter of fact, in the time it took you to read and (somehow) agree with that pitiful tweet, you could have looked up what you didn’t understand in your textbook…or, you know, asked someone.

Priorities.

For The People Who Think School Was Supposed To Teach Them Everything

This week, I saw an unusual amount of memes that all had to do with what school failed to teach people and what school should have taught people. These lists ranged anywhere from budget planning to taking out loans to community economic development.

It wasn’t the first time I had seen these types of memes. I mean, since about 2014, we’ve been bombarded with memes of people whining about all the shit that they never learned. Even the common sense stuff like making appointments appears to have escaped people (which is not necessarily a surprise considering the fact that if common sense were a stock, most people would perpetually be in the bear market). 

When I see these memes, I just have one question, though.

What about your parents?

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But let me back up though and address this particular meme.

  1. Private school doesn’t teach you a lot of this stuff either. I went to private school. There’s no extra special secret curriculum.
  2. Reading and understanding laws? Well, the reading part is kind of a no-brainer. Reading comprehension is actually taught starting 1st or 2nd grade. If you don’t understand what you’ve read, be it laws or anything else, you can always ask.
  3. I literally took a health and or biology class (or had the curriculum) every year from Pre-K through 12th grade. In Pre-K, it’s talking about brushing your teeth and eating vegetables. It gets more sophisticated as you get older. Don’t blame school for your cavities and cholesterol.
  4. At what point would starting a business fit into general education when that’s not something that most people will ever do? That’s one of those things experiencing life will help you learn if that’s the road you choose.
  5. Investing? That was covered in that easy class you took senior year called “Math of Money” or (by the time I was a senior) “Math Models.”
  6. Filing a lawsuit? Again, most people will never need to file a lawsuit. However, there are clerks at the courthouse. You simply walk up to them and say, “I’m interested in filing a lawsuit” and they will point you in the right direction.
  7. How to avoid taxes? I won’t even touch that one but to say most adults don’t even know how to do that so I don’t know why anyone would think that would make it into a general curriculum.
  8. Self-defense? Ask your parents to take karate.
  9. Build guns? You really think we need to be teaching school-aged children how to build guns when they can’t even be trusted to not be on their smartphone during a lecture? Okay. Ask your uncle Festus.
  10. Reading vaccine inserts? There’s that reading thing again. I’ve never had a problem reading anything because…I can read.
  11. Federal Reserve creation? Do you honestly care? Honestly? C’mon! You can be…honest!
  12. Propaganda? Well, that’s interesting because after first learning what propaganda was, I was able to identify it quite easily. We also talked about it in social studies (elementary) and history right around the time we discussed Hitler.
  13. Government cover-ups? Watch Netflix documentaries.

As an aside, it’s funny that people talk about how none of us needs two rounds of algebra in the real world (shout out to the engineers, math teachers, scientists, etc.) but somehow, this meme-maker seems to think we all really need to know how to build guns and that if the government wants to kill us, they’ll make it look like an accident.

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At some point, we have to stop blaming an underfunded, overcrowded educational system for not teaching you EVERY SINGLE THING you ended up needing to know in adulthood.

One, you have parents for a reason. All those times your mom told you that you couldn’t do or get something because your parents couldn’t afford it? That was your exposure to the budgeting lesson you think someone who makes $50k/year, is responsible for 200 students, and is actually a veritable stranger to you was supposed to teach you.

Two, you presumably have a brain. How to make a doctor’s appointment? You call the doctor you want to see, and when the receptionist answers the phone, you say, “Hello, I’d like to make an appointment to see Dr. _____.” Then, you answer whatever questions she may have. Don’t forget your insurance card.

It really is that simple. I wouldn’t lie to you. There are even healthcare providers that allow you to set appointments online. If you can order pizza, you can make a doctor’s appointment.

Loans? You read and ask questions. If you don’t understand, ask more questions until you do understand. You can even ask for a tentative payment schedule that forecasts what you’ll end up owing and how much the loan will cost you in the long run. Then, you sign or decline.

Budgeting? Mathematics + common sense. So, if you bring home $2,700/mo., your rent is $1,000/mo., your utilities equal $700/mo., and your commuting costs add up to $500/mo., and your groceries are $400/mo., no, the newest $350 Apple gadget probably isn’t a good idea because life has a way of surprising us and that Apple gadget isn’t a roof. You see, budgeting isn’t really about whether or not you physically have the money as much as whether or not it makes sense to spend it on certain things.

But, if 2016 taught me anything, it’s that poor people deserve nice things.

Anywho….

Thirdly, and I mentioned this on my personal FB page once, some of y’all are hard-headed and don’t pay attention to anything. Some of y’all had really good teachers who taught you way more than they were obligated to but you were passing notes, skipping class, or doing a bunch of other irrelevant shit and missed it. Now you’re mad because you think someone failed you when you really failed yourself.

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If learning is something that most people agree is a lifelong activity, why are so many people from the Millennial/Xennial generation walking around as if they were supposed to be exposed to such topics as “community economic development” at some point in their K-12 education? At what point was the underpaid and overworked teacher supposed to ask who was interested in a career in public administration or social activism?

Which leads me to my next point. Although I like to pretend to know everything, I actually don’t. And when I decide I’d like to know something that I don’t already know, I do the legwork it takes to find out. For those of you unsure of the meaning of legwork, that just means that instead of griping on the internet about the shit I don’t know that I think someone should have volunteered to tell me by rote, I do my own research. I Google, find a book on the subject, or, depending on what the topic is, I may even ask my mother (remember that point about having parents).

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The thing is, if you’re lucky, life will be longer than you think. If you aren’t lazy or one of those people determined to foul up every opportunity they get, you’ll keep learning. Some of your learning will be by trial and error (like when I trusted that a new beautician knew the difference between trimming my ends and damn near scalping me). Some of your learning will merely require you to lift your head from your phone for a few minutes and observe what’s happening around you (like, I’m sure you remember your mom making your doctor’s appointments for you so how you walked away not knowing any of it…IDK). A lot of your learning will require you to be an active participant. You may have to watch some shit you don’t want to watch or read some shit you don’t want to read.

You may have to speak to someone you can’t stand simply because they have the information you need (that’s for you former class skippers who didn’t like Ms. So-and-So but Ms. So-and-So would have helped you not embarrass yourself at 30 crying about not knowing the very shit she was teaching while you were at the mall on a Tuesday at 11:30 am).

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At this rate, in the year 2050, we’ll have a bunch of 20 year-olds mad that nobody taught them to tie their shoe (a sure win for the velcro industry). Let’s hope potty training at 2 is still the standard though.

Let’s do better. Just like we say self-care is your responsibility, so is knowledge. Use the time it takes to complain on the internet about a perceived educational deficit you experienced 15 or 20 years ago to self-educate.

 

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I’m Tired: My Thoughts on Child Suicide

When I was in 5th grade, there was a girl named Lacretia. She was rough around the edges. Well, as rough as a 5th grader can be. She made fun of people. She talked back to the teacher. She was academically lacking. She came from a dysfunctional family. She physically intimidated people she thought were weak. She was your classic bully.

One day, before Language Arts class, we were in the restroom. This was the day Lacretia decided to set her sights on me. I was in the stall handling my business and when I was done, I went to try to leave the stall and couldn’t open the door. Lacretia had put all her weight on the door and laughed as I kept trying to get out. What she didn’t know was that by 5th grade, I had been swimming competitively for two years and being a naturally broad-shouldered girl, and at that point, angry at her bullshit, I was able to move her and the door. That’s what I did. With all my might, I pushed the stall door and Lacretia went flying up against the tiled wall. The onlookers were in awe. I washed my hands and went on to class without uttering a word.

Lacretia never bothered me again. In fact, the next year, she matured and we even ended up friends.

Today, while scrolling FB, I came across this article. This little boy committed suicide because he was being bullied due to his weight. This is about the third report this week that I’ve seen about children resorting to suicide to escape constant bullying by their classmates and other peers. Then, there’s this report about how the number of children being admitted to the hospital due to suicide attempts has increased.

It is exhausting for me to think about the fact that there are people who are walking this earth and have developed feelings of such hopelessness before they even hit puberty. As adults, we know that life, while beautiful, comes with mountains of shit upon shit that we have to deal with on a regular basis. We know that everybody isn’t nice and won’t like us. And while I’m not opposed to children learning some of the harsher realities of life, I am crushed at the fact that any child has had such exposure to these mountains of shit and “not nice” souls that they feel that the only way out is to take their own life.

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I read these articles and the comments and they are filled with adults posting “RIP,” and “that’s so sad”, and “something needs to be done.” I wonder if they realize that it’s us, adults, who are the ones who must do “something.” Childhood is supposed to be mostly carefree besides fractions and dodge ball day. The reason that it’s becoming less and less so is because of us.

It’s not just the parents of the bullies who are messing up. It’s all adults who are failing to pick a side.

What do I mean?

Not only are we fostering environments where children grow to be callous to one another before they even know how to spell the word, but we’re also fostering environments where children feel they only have two options: bully or martyr.

This, in my humble opinion, is a problem. We know that children who are bullies weren’t just born that way and that behind their behavior is an adult who is probably bullying them. We know that children are not born hopeless and defeated, but that behind the scenes, there are adults who aren’t engaging with them in a way that exhorts them and affirms who they are. Interestingly, this is the case for both the bullies and the martyrs.

The side that adults are failing to pick is the side of the children.

We are failing to view children as whole individuals. We forget that children have egos, and souls, and spirits; and that they are filled with emotions, and thoughts, and worries just like we are. We forget that they have needs that go beyond clothing and shelter, and that, just like we want those in our life who claim to love us to nurture and protect those parts of us, children want the same thing.

Telling children to ignore hateful comments or that “sticks and stones may break [their] bones, but words will never hurt [them]” is irresponsible. Further, it’s a lie. There are words that will hurt 1,000 times worse than any stick ever could. The fracture of one’s spirit is the harshest break of all.

*shrug* I don’t have all the answers. But, I do know I’m tired.

The thing is, 10 year-olds shouldn’t be.