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Wanna Impress the Kids? Don’t Do Any of This.

Skolnick, Revenge of the Nerds

School’s upon us – and so is the terrible professional advice doled out by ‘expert’ speakers and teachers that pocks the path to success like errant dog-doo in the park.

John Thompson guest blogs [or blog-shares, or partner-blogs, I've never figured it out] over at This Week in Education. Here’s today’s charmer – “Back to School”:

“A summer of verbal give and take in the blogosphere could not keep me in shape for the big league trash talking of the urban classroom. I picked up some tricks from the back-to-school convocation, however. The keynote speaker, Jack Berkmeyer, said that we should randomly dub a student as “Sparkie” and rather than yell at a student who is disrupting class, we should yell at a student who is not in class. Then, when students do not listen, the teacher should just express their frustrations to the chalkboard. “Chalkboard, I went into the classroom to talk to students, but I see that you are the only person who will really listen …”

Sometimes I warned the designated “Sparkie” and the rest of the class of the reason why I would engage in those antics. Other times I just started to converse with my new, inanimate best friend. I loved shouting at last year’s student ”Caitlin, what am I, a potted plant? Just because you don’t listen the to plays that your coach calls …” And now, the students have a standard comeback, “D.T., talk to the chalkboard.”

When I was defeated in one round of trash-talking, the student’s closing reply was “D.T. I have not begun to rag on you. When I do, I’ll be looking at your sneakers.” This was the student who had complained, “D.T. if you make me write so much, I’m going to have a cardeo-viscectomy [sic].” – John Thompson”

Eep! I replied.

It’s “Berckemeyer.

And how much did the school pay Jack – or is it Jacko, Piggie or Chuckles? – to encourage adults to ditch self-respect and erode their own modeling of professional behavior? At least it’ll serve the staff well when they audition to be that well-meaning but pathetic teacher in the next CW urban school sitcom. You know, that role of a teacher who’s about 20-25 years behind and who stands in sharp contrast to his class full of eye-rollers?

Here are some other tips:

1. Use words like, “hip” and “gnarly.” You want to weave a pedagogical tapestry from two skeins of thread: Berckemeyer’s advanced psychology and Jeff Spicoli way-cool charm.. Trust me, it’ll totally give those kids a cool learning buzz.

2. Be daring with your wardrobe. Parachute pants are in; so are ripped pink half-shirts.

3. Put on a Billy Squier CD [or cassette, if you want to be state-of-the-art] to serenade kids as they walk into class. They’ll LOVE it.

I’d write more, but I can’t just give this stuff away for free. Maybe next year you can pay me $5k to inspire your staff a la Berckemeyer.

Best of luck to you and your staff in 2009-2010, Spanky. Hope you like your new nickname – it’s gonna make for a rad year!


I really do.

I really do.

3 Responses to “Wanna Impress the Kids? Don’t Do Any of This.”

  1. I should have clicked the hyperlink before responding lyrically to your comment. I forgot to tell the tale of how the stuffed bear got into our school’s display case. I punched it, rammed my fist down his throat, grabbed its tail, pulled it inside out, and the bear tickled itself to death.

  2. John,

    I don’t have a clue what your comment is supposed to mean.

    Then again, I didn’t attend Berkckeicmekmeyer’s seminar, so my education-related sense of humor might be underdeveloped.

  3. navi says:

    wow. he got paid to tell teachers to act like I do… my daughter and husband find it very annoying…

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