Friday, September 30, 2011

Do I Have a Brain Tumor?

Photo: mugley, Flickr Creative Commons

I spent a little time reading old blog posts here yesterday and I started wondering if I'm the only one who reads my writing and feels like they're having a seizure. It seems like when I'm reading my own work that there are starts and stops in the flow of my writing like I had been writing to one rhythm in my head only to suddenly switch to a different rhythm or to lose the rhythm entirely. I don't normally get this jarring feeling when reading the work of other writers. Is it just me? Hopefully, it's just something to do with vaguely remembering the writing process. Normally, I'm not privy to what the author had planned unless that author is me.

Speaking of retarded people, if you want to have hope for the intellectual future of our nation, do not spend time with teenagers. They can sometimes inspire you with their actions and words, but man do they lack anything resembling an intelligent vocabulary. I'm giving a test today and so far I've had multiple students have to ask for the meaning of the following words:
  • Optimistic. This word comes up multiple times every year and every year I have to explain what it and pessimistic mean every time, usually to multiple students in the same class because they weren't listening the first time.
  • Objective and subjective. I kind of understand this one. It's not used much outside of academic circles and high school students are just getting to that part of their education. Still, I'm pretty sure these concepts should have come up by now.
  • Pity. No explanation for this. The student who asked me is not normally lacking in intelligence.
  • Outcome. Seriously? This one is should be easier than pity. It's two words you already know combined in a way to suggest the meaning of the word. Also, it was used in a context of goal, motive, outcome. Just read the sentence.
  • Studious. This one isn't really used a lot at home, I'm sure, but it sounds like what it means.
  • Oppressed.
  • Scorn.
Keep in mind that this is a class of 14 and 15 year olds who currently plan on attending college and that at least two students asked for each of these words on separate occasions. And yes, I understand that they are young and they come from a place where it's unlikely their parents have more than a high school education. It doesn't matter how smart you are if you aren't exposed to the vocabulary. I also understand that I'm exceptional in my ability to pick up and use words, a trait my 4-year-old seems to have inherited. (Seriously. He correctly explained the term "symbiotic relationship" to my wife last week after pronouncing it correctly and in the proper context in an unprompted sentence. I do not hold my students to that standard.) Then again, I actually speak the same way to him that I speak to adults. I don't dumb myself down for him, and neither does my wife, really.

I just have to repeat one of my personal mantras. Being a child is a temporary illness. Being a child is a temporary illness.

Dammit, I hate kids.


Julie said...

Getting older makes me wonder if every generation has felt this way. I swear that kids today are less intelligent. I think technology has made them lazier about the basics of reading and writing. Then, I start to wonder if this is just how the older generation always feels about young whippersnappers. Guess time will tell.

Jacob said...

It's always this way. The human brain is developing throughout the teen years and they lack experience and education. There's also confirmation bias. The majority of every generation is dimwitted. They don't matter and never have. You can find high school kids who aren't idiots. You just don't notice them because they don't piss you off.

Sid said...

Laughed on 2 occasions. 1 - when you used the word "retarded" to describe slow ppl. And then I immediately felt guilty.
2 - when I read your mantra.

Jacob said...

Sid, I think it's okay because I implied that I was one of the retarded people.

If not, I don't really care. I'd never make fun of anyone who actually was mentally handicapped. I refuse to stop using retarded to describe things that are stupid. The kids I mentioned are actually in no way slow. They're actually college-bound students. All are are probably at least slightly above average intelligence.

Rassles said...

Yep, I agree that it's always been this way. Yet society keeps evolving, and there are a bajillion versions of iPhones, and the internet, and I still read books and so do most of the kids I know.

So there.

You are just the right amount of jarring.

Mickey said...

Objective and Subjective give me pause every time. Literally, if you hear me use either of these words you will notice a conspicuous pause before I settle on one or the other. I know which is which, but I think it's the fact that they are almost always paired up in conversation that makes it tough to just spit it out. Fiction and Non-fiction do the same thing to me, though not quite as consistently.

Jacob said...

Having to think is not the same as having never heard (or remembered hearing) the words.

Also, non-fiction trouble makes sense. Fiction is not true and non-fiction is true. The non-not link makes it a potentially confusing issue. I avoid that construction when teaching and stress the fffffiction-ffffake link and non-fiction not fake.

Still, I'm not surprised when kids have brain farts there. It's logical.

Courtney said...

Teenagers seem exceptionally stupid to me too, but I try not to freak out about it because I was stupid as a teenager too. However, I did know what all those words mean. How can you be a college-bound student and not know what "pity" means?

Also, yes, your writing does have an odd cadence sometimes. I'd never have pointed it out if you hadn't done so yourself. Your meaning is usually clear, so for a blog it's fine.