Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Hey Rebbe How R U 2Day?




A reader sent me a scan of questions from a Chumash assignment. I won't even comment 'cuz I don't need to Xplain this to U. Ever wonder Y UR teenager can't spell and lacks respect for the discipline? Well, this might help U understand.


If I had an edumacation tag, I'd file it under that. In the meantime, we will have to settle for the education tag. I can't put something like this under the humor tag. It isn't funny.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T

39 comments:

dvorak613 said...

Well I can give one reason in answer to the last question...

Anonymous said...

If you think that is bad, I just had a community college professor last semester who sent out official e-mails spelled just like that.

G*3 said...

At least he's consistent.

Orthonomics said...

dvorak613-Thank you for providing me my laugh of the day.

Sima said...

Which school is this? This is absolutely inexcusable. It's idiotic, shows no respect for the subject and the students, and is utterly unprofessional. Any pricipal who allows sheets like this to be distributed is likewise culpable.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Please tell me this is a post-Purim gag. Because it makes me gag!

Were I to receive something like that from a student, it would be handed straight back as unacceptable.

If I were the parent whose child is in this class, I would be demanding an explanation from the teacher and the principal - PRONTO!

Maybe the teacher (mistakenly) thought this is a cute imitation of how the students send text messages?

Orthonomics said...

R. Scher-Sadly, not a Purim joke at all. This is an assignment that fell into the hands of the person who scanned this and sent it to me. I will NOT reveal the name of the school, although it is known to me. The student body is mixed, but mostly "centrist." Seeing this is very scary and it isn't the first time I've seen written English from kodesh staff that is unacceptable.

When we were visiting family, I noted that the word 'cuz was used in place of because in the divrei Torah sent home with our nieces.

Picky said...

Never mind the spelling—notice the hideous use of MS Comic Sans!

Miami Al said...

I often wondered why you need a dual staff at the elementary level, figuring that the Rabbinic staff should be able to teach both areas, I mean, it's elementary school, if you are qualified to teach, you should be able to handle any non-language subject at the elementary school level.

Clearly that assumption was incorrect.

Anonymous said...

As an English major, as as someone who generally agrees with most of the rants around here, I don't think this is all that bad. The questions themselves are intelligent and perhaps even challenging, and for those students who find the material dry or difficult, at least the rebbe tried to lighten up the mood. Like the previous commentor, I also had a college professor -- in grad school! -- do this to us; I took more of an issue with it then because it felt like a lack of respect -- we were all adults. Here, these are kids, so I say give em a break. (However, I do wonder about the choice of words "sleeping with." A little spicy, no?)

Lion of Zion said...

I really don't understand why everyone is going nuts. Are you really surprised that a rebbe can't write proper English? (Granted that this is excessive.)
My objection is more fundamental. How can a limude kodesh exam be in English? As far as I'm concerned, that's a bigger travesty.

Orthonomics said...

LOZ-Perhaps the school has some low level tracks for kids coming in from public schools? Just a thought.

Picky-I didn't want to pile on about the font.

Anonymous-You and I will have to disagree. Even if the Rebbe thought he was "lighten[ing] up the mood," many kids of this generation wouldn't even catch the humor because this is the way that they communicate. Heck, in my day, when you passed a note in class, you actually spelled out words like great (gr8) and before (b4). I have received notes from people younger than me for which I needed an interpreter. I'm still learning to decode.

In my day, if we would have turned in something that looked like this, the teacher would have marked a big F on it. I had one particularly strict World History teacher who would deduct a point for a missing comma, despite the written assignment spanning a number of pages.


Being able to communicate properly is key and grade school kids need to have that lesson pounded into their heads. Better they develop good habits and attention to detail while they are young. If a graduate school professor wants to communicate that way, so be it. But these kids aren't in grad school.

Neil Harris said...

I'd show it to the principle (oops, I mean principal). In all seriousness, if a potential family were visiting this school and saw this test then I hope they would run the other way.

Commenter Abbi said...

Eh, I'm with the anon who wasn't that bothered. You're right SL, it IS a generational thing. So if the teacher found a way to communicate with them so they'll listen, is that such a bad thing?

I think it's a matter of taste. I don't care for it and I wouldn't write this way myself, but for high school I think it's ok.

(I was also an English major and I got an MA in Jewish Ed).

JLan said...

"I often wondered why you need a dual staff at the elementary level"

N.B. that if this is for elementary school, it's inappropriate as well, given the "sleeping with your daughter in law" question (number 4).

Mike S. said...

I showed this to my 12 year old. She said her teachers (at least her Gemara and math teachers) sometimes do the same. She and her classmates recognize that the teachers do this to lighten the mood, not as an example of proper writing. The teachers both use and expect the children to use proper written English when necessary.

I suspect this teacher was doing the same his students know it, and the kids and rebbe are all quite well aware that "why" is not spelled "Y".

Lion of Zion said...

JLAN:

i was surprised by the sleeping with DIL and animal questions

Shoshana Z. said...

This might seem like a small thing, but it sends a big message. I am equally concerned with the physical environment present in the Jewish schools. I recently had cause to be inside the boys' upper-grade classrooms at our local black-hat elementary. The physical conditions were appalling and depressing. I can't imagine a child feeling motivate to learn in that environment. I was left with a feeling of sadness and desperation on behalf of the kids who have to tolerate such deplorable conditions.

ProfK said...

"Ever wonder Y UR teenager can't spell and lacks respect for the discipline? Well, this might help U understand."

I'd be far more likely to place the blame elsewhere. When young children and teenagers spend their days texting they aren't exposed to "proper" English. And who buys and provides the means to do that texting? The parents do. If your children can't spell correctly and their English sounds like they are first going to get off the boat tomorrow, look into your mirror and one of the "culprits" is staring back at you.

I have kept a fat file over the years of notes received from parents. They make the test in this posting look positively Shakespearean by comparison.

On the basis of one test, submitted here anonymously, without any knowledge of whether it was meant as a send up or was serious, nor even for which grade level it was meant, I wouldn't be demanding the teacher's head on a platter. Perhaps the teacher doesn't know any better and perhaps he does. Perhaps, as mentioned by other commenters, he was trying to lighten the mood a bit.

And just for the record, I'm a professor of English. No, I don't speak or write in the fashion of the note. No, I don't allow my students to turn in written work using "texting" shortcuts.

Lion of Zion said...

SHOSHANA:

my son's school is a dump, but rectifying this problem would mean raising tuition significantly. as long as there are no real safety concerns, i have no problem with him learning in a dump to keep tuition from rising more than it already has (35% for next year)

Orthonomics said...

Shoshana Z-You bring up another issue of environment that concerns me. I'm not sure what you witnessed, but I've seen property damage, defaced desks, and rooms with stuff just strewn about. Like you, I believe that environment is important. I know I can't work in an environment that is chaotic, and I see the difference in behavior when our home gets out of control. But perhaps here too, I'm just no fun because I believe in the rule, "a place for everything and everything in its place." I don't need fancy facilities, but I do believe that a neat and clean environment that is respected makes for a better learning environment. Defaced desks and writting, however small, on the walls is not acceptable.

tesyaa said...

My 2 cents: at first I thought this is not so bad; it's generational, and times have changed. I feel like an old lady when I complain about things like this, and I've gotten used to text spelling among kids and teens (although it would never fly in my workplace).

But then I thought about my sons' public school, and I realized you would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS see anything like this coming from one of their public school teachers. So no, this is not acceptable.

Lion of Zion said...

Tesyaa:

if you're using the public schools as a standard, then this just scratches the surface

aml said...

Maybe he's just trying to relate to the kids? :)

I taught a writing class at a community college a few years ago and after grading the first assignment, I was appalled. I wasn't much older than these students (some were much older than me) but we were worlds apart. We actually had to have a conversation about writing out words completely, capitalizing the word "I", and the use of spell check on their computers. I made them give examples of when it would be appropriate to write like this rebbe did and when it would not. I felt like I was on an SNL skit, except that I wanted to cry.

Lion of Zion said...

Aml:

re. Spell checker:
I'm used to poorly written letters from my son's school by now, buy the poor spelling really pisses me off. I understand not everyone writes well and not everyone had a proper education, but for crying out loud, it only takes a minute to use the spell checker

I used to do a academic editing (wouldn't know this from my hastily written comments :) ) and was known to be merciless. I stopped reading the stuff my son brougt home last year because I would read it Friday night and had such a tayva to pull out my red pen and mark away to return to the school

Anonymous said...

"buy the poor spelling pisses you off?"

Avi said...

Count me as another English major not bothered by the attempt at making the assignment more fun. This is obviously deliberate, and I like the idea that the teacher is reaching out. I'm much more concerned that he probably failed at the attempt. Using Comic Sans and a few obvious "textisms" isn't going to make the kids think he's one of them.

Frayda said...

Wow! I wonder what the Rebbe's reasoning was for his hideously formatted and spelled paper. In addition, questions 4 & 7 seem very odd and inappropriate.

Orthonomics said...

Frayda-This is an assignment from either middle school or high school, not elementary. I guess I get to be the "liberal" here because I don't see asking and answering questions about the Torah and mefarshim to students who probably have quite a bit of exposure, whether we like it or not, to sexuality is improper. The Torah clearly tells us not to engage in these acts and in a world where media tell us to engage in our passions, a discussion to the contrary doesn't really bother me.

Not respecting the English language bothers me. Helping the boys understand that the Torah has a sexual ethic doesn't bother me in the least, although I might have used different language than "slept with."

Knitter of shiny things said...

Wow, just wow.

I remember in my 12th grade English class (8 years ago) there was a discussion in which the teacher mentioned things that were unacceptable (such as the colloquial use of the word "like" e.g. "and he was like 'OMG'"). She mentioned the use of net speak, which at the time was just starting to gain popularity. I asked "do people really write things like that in papers?" Apparently, they did. I was appalled at the time; surely my classmates should know better!

Now I expect to see this thing from students, much as it pains me. But from teachers, really? I can understand typos in hastily written e-mails from professors who have a billion other things they need to do, but an assignment that is handed out should be held to a higher standard.

Orthonomics said...

Re: lightening up

Perhaps I'm just a curmudgeon, but I simply don't see the humor. I have plenty of teachers growing up with their own shtick (trinkets, personality quirks, etc) which brough some humor to the class and made for some enjoyable moments. I just don't see the humor here. I really don't.

Offwinger said...

I think the problem is that students need to learn that what's acceptable in "formal" or "official" documents is not the same as what's acceptable via text or IM.

There are many students who email professors in an undergraduate or graduate setting and do not understand that they should be writing in formal English, not textspeak. Learning about boundaries and professionalism in language usage is not something students can pick up when they begin college or later on or, even worse, when they need to apply for jobs. It's something that needs to be communicated from the get-go.

I understand that maybe this teacher was using textspeak to be "funny" or chummy with the students. I think it's a poor choice, because those same students are not going to grow up understanding why they can't write that way to a potential employer.

Ahavah Gayle said...

SL, since you do tax prep work perhaps you could do an article that would explain the ramifications if dayschools, charities and shuls lost all or part of their tax-exempt status (or are forced to collect sales taxes on their services) because it looks like that is getting ready to happen in many states, especially for dayschools.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/28charity.html

dvorak613 said...

Re: the issue of lightening up: There a million and one ways to "lighten up" your class, but you are still the teacher and the adult and you need to have some sort of authority. Of course you want to be cool for the kids but you still have to be the adult sometimes and this is one of those times. How else are the kids going to learn the difference between texting and facebook posting and writing a resume and cover letter?

I've found in the public school where I do fieldwork that some of the teachers have tattoos, piercings, and hair dyed all colors of the rainbow. That's another example of taking "coolness" and "relating to the kids" too far. Tell the kids about how you too used to have green hair, but for God's sake don't stand in front of them with it! If these people had to work in an office instead of a school, you could bet your house that they would cover those tattoos, close up the extra holes, and change those blue highlights to a subtle blond...

Miami Al said...

Ahavah Gayle,

It could be more severe. To avoid reporting requirements, many Day Schools organize as Churches. This is completely wrong, but seems a combination of being grandfathered in and it doesn't really matter... non-profs file a 990, but don't pay taxes anyway. Churches are exempt from filings because of the First Amendment.

HOWEVER, if the non-profit private schools are taxed at some rate, and the churches are not, then watch how fast the hammer comes down on private schools registered as churches.

That, more than a small tax, might be a severe blow to the kleptocracy that are the schools.

OTOH, a 1%-2% tuition excise tax, on top of the normal tuition rate, might throw more things into disarray. You'd also have to publicize the backdoor scholarships of uncollected receivables, because you'd have to pay taxes on it if you don't right it down.

Get your house in order before the long arm of the law catches up with the financial chicanery that is the day school movement.

And remember, when the IRS slaps you, they can go back 7 years of slapping you, which might put a bunch of schools under... and since many mortgages, etc., are personally guaranteed by parents to get a lower rate...

Ahavah Gayle said...

I think scholarships are already supposed to be reported as income...I'm not 100% sure about that, though. I wouldn't bet that a lot of people actually do it. If the IRS seizes school records, you're saying every parent who got a discount on their tuition for the last seven years would get a bill. Ouch, to say the least. I was wondering what parts of education costs would still be tax deductible, but as you pointed out, that could be the least of people's problems.

Orthonomics said...

Ahavah Gayle-I intend to look at the article and comment very soon. I'm buried under work right now.

Miami Al said...

Ahavah Gayle,

No, I'm saying a few things:

Tuition reductions for employees that are discriminatory might be compensation. If you give all teachers 40%, fine, but if a few of them give you 100% because you like them/their parents, and don't have a defined class, that 60% might be income, not a benefit.

If a state decides to "tax the rich" and tax tuition of private schools by 1% excise tax, and the schools refuse to comply as Church's, they could lose their Church status.

Also, backdoor scholarship comes to the forefront... backdoor:

5 Kids: $60k tuition
Scholarship Committee: 50% scholarship, pay $30k
Family: Pays $24k

At the end of the year, the $6k balance sits on the books in Accounts Receivable, though the school has no intention to collect it... if they don't write it down, their mortgages, based on the balance sheet, might be fraudulent. Further, that family got an extra 10% scholarship, but it's not on the scholarship line.

Now, if the state slaps an excise tax of 1%, does that family owe $600, $300, or $240?

If the state decides that the School's IRS filing as a Church was fraudulent, and gets the IRS to slap them, they might decide it was fraudulent and demand 7 years of 990s, plus penalties for non-filing.

The parsonage for teachers that aren't acting in a clergy-like capacity, might become a problem, going back 7 years, and they might go after the employee AND the school.

You have anyone here on a Visa that is getting paid through a different organization via 1099 (the Visa lets them work for a Shul, the Shul pays them, the school 1099s the Shul)?

Lots of things that aren't "quite Kosher" by tax law might take place and slide through, because the IRS doesn't look at non-profits much, but if they change their mind, GOOD LUCK!

Yossi said...

I guess if you get all the answers right, he marks the paper "xcellent".