Twenty-Five is Almost a Quarter

Chatting about Shakespeare

“I don’t get it.”

“What don’t you get?”

“All of it.”

“Why?”

“It’s stupid.”

“No, it’s not stupid. It might not work the way you expect it to, but what specifically don’t you understand?”

“All of it.”

“Is there a scene or line that could help us narrow it down?”

“All of it.”

“We have to try to figure it out somehow, so you need to help me help you find an example of what isn’t working for you.”

“All of it.”

“Then we will look at it all line by line if we have to.”

Negative Nancies

Maybe when I was a student, my classmates and I were just as negative, but I don’t seem to remember the overwhelming need to express a negative opinion as I hear these days. I try my best to reinforce with positive comments or alternatives to talking about subjects in an unflattering light, but some days are harder than others. On a personal response to poetry, I asked students to compile a list of attributes for a true friend. Most students used positive terms like kind, trusting, creative and so on. A couple though used terms like “not stupid.” I know that many would just chuckle and move on, but it really stuck in my head as I moved through my pile of marking. Why couldn’t they just write intelligent, brilliant, smart, clever, witty, keen, sharp, bright, adept or any other of the multitude of antonyms for stupid? My greatest fear for this world is not nuclear or alien invasion, but living in an indifferent and apathetic society where people coexist in an uncaring and passive aggressive manner. Little negative comments can snowball into something much bigger. I keep on keeping on by asking my students to rephrase their wording in a positive way. It may not work on all of them, but I don’t think it’s stupid to keep trying. I think it’s brilliant to stay persistent.

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