Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are you %&*@ing kidding me?

'Oral Sex' Definition Prompts Dictionary Ban

a) Really? Seriously?

b) "'It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,' district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper." Yeah, 'cause that seems like a productive use of everyone's time.

c) Really? No, I mean, really?

Looking up dirty words in the dictionary is a time-honored tradition. Heck, it's the only way some kids even become familiar with dictionaries. So for fear of a few "naughty" words, you're going to deny children access to this resource in the classroom. Yes, there are online dictionaries but:

a) you can just as easily--even more easily--look up forbidden knowledge there, and I doubt this district can purchase a classroom set of computers as easily as it can purchase a classroom set of dictionaries.

b) one of the things I love about print dictionaries, and why I still use them even though it is so easy to look up words online, is their serendipitous nature; it's so easy to discover new words that you would never have come across looking up words online. That act of discovery is, in my opinion, particularly important for younger students who are still expanding their vocabularies.

Dictionaries--dirty words and all--belong in classrooms. I know no one from the Menifee Union school district reads this, but if you happen to come across it my advice to you is to use one of those forbidden dictionaries to look up the word "bowdlerize"--and remember that we don't remember Thomas Bowdler as a hero of education.


  1. Folks might also want to look up "the Streisand Effect", but I'll leave it to others to determine Barbra Streisand's status as a heroine of education.

    (Pop quiz: how can you tell that I used the correct spelling of "heroine"? Answer: It's the only spelling, according to the newly-published Menifee-Webster dictionary.)

    While I can remember using dictionaries for this sort of "unauthorized education", it was only after we discovered the thesaurus that the rubber really hit the road.

    (Pop quiz: how can you tell that I properly used the word....oh, never mind.)

  2. Let's see if this non-anonymous post works this time -- it didn't before.. I read about this and had a bet with myself as to whom I would hear about this first from.. Let me say this instead - I had a bet with myself with regards to who would be first to comment about this. Not much better.. Anyway, I lost. Yes, this is an interesting move -- someone was probably annoyed that students were using proxy servers to get around their filtration, so they went with a tried and true low tech solution to "part of the problem" Seriously though, can you imagine their approach to internet access?

  3. I bet they have completely unfiltered Internet--but you need a permission slip to get a computer monitor.