Friday, December 9, 2016

Supposedly Teaching, Part XI

Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, and the 1993 Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version is The Best Version. Sorry, Joss Whedon, even with Nathan Fillion playing Dogberry, it doesn't compare to Branagh and Thompson's verbal barbs, and Keanu Reeves as an absolutely so-bad-he's-good Don Jon. And Denzel as Don Pedro because Denzel. And I could go on and on.

I've shown the movie several times in class over the years, and, if you've seen the movie, you know that if you are showing it to school children, you have to skip two minutes near the beginning - the part where everyone is undressing and there's random naked people (well, naked butts). No really, it is kind of random. Yes, they're undressing, but it's just not a movie with naked people in other parts of it.

Because I wanted to make sure I skipped the naked parts, before class I carefully jotted down the exact minutes - 6:08 to 8:15 - to make sure I skipped ahead to the non-naked parts. I would like to add that normally, I am very bad at doing this, usually because I don't have time, so I tend to wing my attempts at PG-ing a movie in class, which is usually not a good idea.

Come class time, I introduced the movie, and we started watching it, through the Hey Nonny Nonny's and Beatrice's comic evisceration of that poor messenger. And then we were about to get to the naked butts. So, I froze the projector so that I could fast-forward. But, then I realized there were still a couple of moments that I wanted to show the class - most particularly Denzel and company coming riding over the hill triumphantly, horses' manes whipping in the wind as they raise a fist in the air. So I unfroze the projector.

We watched Denzel and company riding over the hill triumphantly, horses' manes whipping in the wind as they raise a fist in the air. And then I paused the movie, and said: "We are skipping the next two minutes.


"Because it contains gratuitous nudity."

"What does gratuitous mean, Miss Bowers?"

"In this context, it means unnecessary. Well, even if it was necessary, I still wouldn't show you."

As I spoke, I advanced the movie forward, not really paying attention to what was on the screen, just watching the minutes till I was past the naked butts parts.

"Um, Miss Bowers..."

I looked up, to see naked butts flashing very quickly across the scene. Because I had forgotten to freeze the projector before I fast-forwarded.

"It's okay, Miss Bowers, we have seen them before," one of the boys told me kindly.

This wasn't quite as bad as two weeks ago when I began liberally throwing around the phrase "Netflix and Chill" because I thought "Netflix and Chill" meant, well, watching Netflix and relaxing.

My 8th graders were doing an activity where they mapped out their identity, including hobbies and activities they like to do for fun.

"You know, what do you like to do? Do you like to "Netflix and Chill"?" I asked my 8th graders. One lone soul, a more recent transplant from America said: "Miss Bowers!"

That was my first clue.

I  may have also used it in my 11th grade class, in a different context, where someone else said a little skeptically: "Miss Bowers!?"

You know how sometimes you use the same phrase several times, in part because it's cool, and in part because it's sort of an ear-worm and you can't get it out of your current language? Yeah, it was like that.

Later that week, it was Thanksgiving, and we had a staff dinner. Because I was around adults for the first time in a while, I casually asked the group: "So, I have a question. Is the term "Netflix and Chill" a euphemism for having sex?" Why I decided to ask real people, and not Google, I'll never know.

"Yes, of course it is," Michelle said matter-of-factly. "Haven't you seen those memes making fun of people who try to be cool by using the expression "Netflix and Chill" without knowing what it means?"

No, no, I haven't seen those memes. I'm a little off my Pinterest game lately.

So, in the course of three weeks, I have suggested that one of the activities my 8th grade students like to do for fun is have sex, and I have shown nudity in my 10th grade class.

That's just how things go when you're supposedly teaching.

p.s. Why is it always Shakespeare that gets me into to trouble when I'm teaching??

[It's been more than three years since my last Supposedly Teaching post...!]