Welcome back - this week our insults are in full swing! My fifth period class is really taking a shine to these things, actually thinking critically about the words and how they work/fit together. If you are unfamiliar with my Shakespearean Insults, I post one each day in full-blown Shakespeare text, have the students generate their own meaning on whiteboards, share and then we discuss them together.
Yesterday fifth period did so well that I decided to give them a second one…against my better judgement. The first one: Thou spongy, ill-nurtured moldwarp morphed into a discussion on what constituted an actual insult.
"How is that insulting? How is being a mole insulting? They’re just animals!"
"But they burrow underground…and look like giant tics!" I replied, aghast.
"Ms. Hamilton, don’t hate on the mole…"
"Ok…well, perhaps this one will change your mind about Shakespearean insults: thou art a gleeking, brazen-faced, flax-wench."
Now…a more experienced teacher might have omitted the term ‘wench’ because we all know where that one went…needless to say I’ve learned this lesson in a painfully obvious way.
"Ms. Hamilton, can I write ‘hoe’ on my whiteboard?"
WHAT?! How is that even an ‘okay’ question?! While I loved the fact that she asked, I was inclined to say no at first, “why don’t we think of a better word, a more descriptive and more class appropriate word to describe this one.”
"SLUT!" hollered my star pupil, a quirky and bright student who’s always blurting out stuff that is border-line. EPIC FAIL Hamilton!
"X (insert student’s name) - there is this imaginary line of appropriateness…and you definitely just crossed it." I wasn’t chastising him, simply informing him and the rest of the class that ‘slut’ really isn’t classroom appropriate.
However, using his powers of argumentation and persuasion, “well Ms. Hamilton, you asked for a better, more descriptive word and I have given you one.” He leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and sat there smiling at me with a look that said “I’ve caught you now!” I have to admire his logic.
"Ok…I guess we can use ‘hoe’ but I’d rather you use something you’re comfortable with your grandmother hearing - "
Before I could complete my rationale another student pipped in, “it IS a tool after all Ms. H!”
So, that’s how I got responses like “You are a spitting, brazen seed ‘hoe” and “you are a spitting, unashamed flax-hoe.” Despite the inappropriateness of the whole situation, we had a wonderful conversation about the insult itself once I’d gone over the meaning.
"Gleeking means?" I asked.
"Close…when you spit on someone you are…."
"No, you are teasing and taunting them." I receive a few nods and ‘ah’s.’ "Now, brazen-faced means what?"
Backstory…last week a friend of mine came in a visited our classroom. One of my students took this time to ask the question…is he your boyfriend?! Deciding this was a perfect time to address ‘brazen’ I used her as an example.
"When Y (Insert student name) asked me ‘is that guy your boyfriend?!’ she was asking in a totally brazen way. She was unashamed, unembarrassed and shameless, right?"
"Huh, so she didn’t really care if it would embarrass you, so she just asked?" someone clarified. Apparently, this example totally made sense…I’m so glad my personal embarrassment has led to some sort of learning.
"A seed!" Star pupil X. "And a wench is a babe or a hoe…so she’s a seed hoe! No wait, a seed prostitute!"
I roll my eyes…”well in a manner yes, but no. Why can’t you just say ‘seed babe’?” We discussed the thing to death, and discovered that by taking out the word ‘flax’ the insult totally made sense: A taunting/joking, shameless babe.
There must be something so wrong with me, but yesterday’s lesson was probably one of the most fun I’ve had in forever!!