Sunday, May 18, 2008

Overheard

There is a feature in the one of the free local papers in NYC which documents interesting snippets of conversation overheard across the five boroughs.  The dialogue, caught on the subway, a bus or while waiting on line at Starbucks, tends to be outrageously silly commentary that never fails to make me chuckle.

Taking this as my cue, I thought it would be equally amusing to begin to jot down some of the conversations I overhear in the classroom.  Most of the ones I am about to share stem from a child's attempts at constructing meaning.  In classrooms across this wonderful country of ours school children are coming to know the world through concepts and ideas.  To that end they often seek assistance from a more knowledge peer or teacher.  The lesson to be learned here is that when you find yourself in need of a helping hand it would behoove you to choose wisely. Otherwise you could end up with some slightly skewed information.

Scene One:

This conversation took place following a first grade math lesson on polygons.

Child #1:  What is a rhombus?
Child #2:  It's when you throw up in your mouth.

Scene Two:

This exchange took place during our daily morning meeting.  On this day we began talking about some new technology when a student asked "What is technology?"  Another student eagerly jumped in and loudly stated that "Technology is when you got nerd stuff".

Scene Three:

I am conducting a reading lesson and ask for a volunteer to come up and help me demonstrate how good reading partners help one another when they come across a difficult word.  

In American Sign Language the sign for volunteer (pictured left) is very similar to the sign for shirt. As I am asking for a volunteer (in sign) a young girl with a puzzled expression looks up at Lauren and says "Why is Gary asking for a shirt?"

Scene Four:

During writing workshop I walk past a table with three students who are having a heated debate about their favorite shows. As I pass I hear one child state very simply but with great conviction "Dora Sucks!" 

I scuttle quickly past so they won't see my smile.  (Dora is the animated lead character on the Nick Jr. show 'Dora the Explorer'.)

Scene Five:

This discussion took place between a teacher and a student during a tutoring session.  They just finished a guided reading lesson of the book By Myself.

Teacher:  What kinds of things do you like to do by yourself?
Student: Play hide and seek.

I don't think this child could have come up with a more smart ass answer if he had tried.  The fact that he was utterly serious added another dimension.   Think it through.

Scene Six:

A coworker is reviewing a lesson on maps with her class that she had taught the day before.  

Teacher:  Does anyone remember, or can you show me on the map, what state Las Vegas is in?
Student #1:  There it is in vagina.
Student #2:  (with obvious disdain for Student #1s response) No, it's not in vagina.  It's in west vagina.  

I can actually understand the confusion there.  For years as a child I was embarrassed by those bumper stickers that read "Virginia is for lovers" because I always misread them as "Vagina is for lovers".   'Nuff said.

(The picture at the top of the post was drawn by a girl learning to use quotation marks.  As part of her developing understanding of their use she internalized them to be necessary whenever anyone spoke.  She incorporated this into her drawings in an ingenious way - putting quotation marks around the mouth. Clever, clever!  Don't ya just love kids?)

16 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderful collection! as ol' art used to say kids say the darnedest things!! thanks for the smiles.

absolutely fabulous!

Reya Mellicker said...

When I'm by myself, I definitely play hide 'n seek! How funny.

Great post, dah=ling!

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I think most people in West Virginia call it West Vagina as well. What happens in West Vagina, stays in West Vagina.

Gosh, you're becoming the next generation Art Linkletter with "Kids Say the Damndest Things".

Ashley & Jason said...

Gary-
what a beautiful site you have hear! It is just wonderful- I have sent the link to friends that are teachers & they love it too! You really do such a fantastic job- and it's totally in your voice! I love it - touching but with your sense of humor for sure! I hope that you are able to make it out for a visit this summer we would LOVE to see you- keep me posted!!

Mona said...

Children see things better than elders do. Only they do not see that they see!

Farmer's Child: ( Not finding his dad on his seat at breakfast) Mom where is Dad?
Mom: He is assisting our cow to deliver a baby calf.
Child: I thought that the Bull does it better...

Aileen said...

This is awesome! What I love is the pure, uninhibited nature of young children. How proudly they shout out their answers not caring if they are right! LOVE that! (at what age do we lost that?)

And- the quotation marks pics are ingenious!

lettuce said...

great post gary, this is so funny.

i LOVE the definition of a rhombus - wonder where that came from? and the "nerd stuff". Who can argue with that?

as for West Vagina.
Well.
'Nuff said.

lettuce said...

gary!

i just noticed that Linda Ronstadt doesn't appear in your label cloud!

Linda doesn't, but Mayor Bloomberg does.
That can't be right.

marxsny said...

"Dora Sucks" is at the same time funny and appalling. I wonder what they hink of Diego. Personally I can't stand that whiny little brat Caillou.

Gary said...

Letty - Thank you for pointing out the Linda Ronstadt oversight. I suppose because this is an educational blog at heart I thought I should stick with educational themed connections. But it's my blog and I make the rules, right? I don't think I could possibly articulate the joy and sense of possibilities that Linda has instilled in me over the course of my life (consistently since I was 13!) So, as of today she gets her own label.

Now about the genesis of the things my students say? I guess that would be the next question.

Mark - They think Diego is very cool. I think Dora's cousin has taken the spotlight. I agree about whiny Calliou. That kid needs to step up once in a while.

Aileen - The kids are SO much fun. I wish I would have thought to document the amazing things they say and how they reflect on the world as they come to understand it before now. They are so fresh in their perspectives because they have not learned any of the cliches to draw from so the way they describe things is so unique and poetic. With all that enthusiasm what's not to shout out?

Mona - LOL. I love that "only they do not see that they see" line. Hope you are feeling better these days.

My dear Ashley and Jason! I am so thrilled for you that things are going swimmingly in Italy! Talk about following your bliss. I would LOVE to visit you this summer in your perfect Italian home, perhaps in August. Looking so forward to some down time and good food with you both. Much Love!

Gregg -Perfect tag line for West Vagina. Why didn't I think of that? LOL. I was wondering who did that kids say the darnedest things thing. Thanks to you and Mouse for pointing that out. My classes could keep me in business for quite a while.

Reya - Once again you gave me a new perspective on things. You bring hide 'n seek to another level don't you. Somehow in your hands it becomes a metaphysical experience with all of these colored layers of meaning. Or then again, perhaps you are just having a good time. You do make me smile.

Kimy - Thanks, There were so many that I wasn't sure which ones to include. Perhaps I should pull an 'ol Art and make it a regular feature.

Steve said...

Haaaaa! West Vagina! Now THAT's funny.

This really is very Linkletterish!

WAT said...

My aunt's name is Virginia. The poor thing.

Dumdad said...

Great post.

I'm playing hide and seek on my own as I write - and I'm winning! Yes I am, no I'm not, yes I am...

Working mum said...

Cute post. Don't you just love the things they say?

Ms. Wollstonecraft said...

I once overheard something like this:
(two little kids were playing in a park and there was a raggedy piece of cloth lying on the ground as litter )

kid #1 sometimes I feel like that.
kid #2 like what?
kid #1 (points) like a rag in the dirt
kid # 2 oh, uh, that's sad
kid #1 no, I mean real tired and dirty. (points at his shirt that's all dirty)

i immediately wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it.
Kids are so amazingly entertaining.

Gary said...

Ms. Wollstonecraft - Thanks for stopping by and sharing this story. Your story reminds me also about how compassionate children are with one another. Whenever one child is upset there is always another who attempts to comfort them. It never fails. The concern shows in their little faces and body language.

Working Mum - I do. And I love the stories you have posted as well!

Dumdad - So, did you find yourself?

Wat - Poor 'ol Aunt Vagina...err...I mean Aunt Virginia.

Steve - :Yes, adding the 'west' is just the touch that pushes it over the line don't you think. The comedy is in the details.

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