Sunday, January 2, 2011

Erik Erikson Predicted the Myspace Duckface

If I was to write for the satirical news source The Onion, my first contribution would be entitled "New Study Reveals Middle Schoolers as Self-centered."  You see, the Onion specializes in playing the role of Captain Obvious - "revealing" true bits of information about our society.

And nothing is more obvious than the fact that my students just looove to talk about themselves. Any undergrad education or psych major can tell you Erik Erikson theorized that our world expands as we age, and by the time students reach my class, they are entering the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage. This means lots of outward self-boasting and lots of inward self-loathing. (When I was in this stage, my mother might have had to relocate my spot at the dinner table because I was so busy primping in the reflecting kitchen window.)

In addition to producing some particularly cringe-inducing, yet entertaining, Myspace profile pictures like these -

the ever-present duckface

the pose-with-a-friend duckface

the bathroom-self-portrait duckface

the white-girl-gangsta duckface

this stage can be used to a writing teacher's advantage.

Here's how:
Lucky for me, tomorrow as we return from Christmas Break (This is where you think, "Yay! More regular funny blog entries!" Amiright?), we will be starting a unit on the personal narrative. Tomorrow and Tuesday will be a reflective time, as is appropriate for this new year. My classes will respond to a variety of narrative prompts guessed it....themselves!

Even reluctant adolescent writers chomp at the bit when they get this chance. Here's to hoping that this season of personal reflection will encourage them to move past that duckface phase.

Duckfacing ironically,

Ms. P

If you are a writer in search of a little inspiration, here are a few of the prompts my students will read tomorrow:

1) Read this excerpt from teacher and author Frank McCourt’s memoir Teacher Man:
"Joey is the mouth. There is one in every class along with the complainer, the clown, the goody-goody, the beauty queen, the volunteer for everything, the jock, the intellectual, the momma's boy, the mystic, the sissy, the lover, the critic, the jerk, the religious fanatic who sees sin everywhere, the brooding one who sits in the back staring at the desk, the happy one, the saint who finds good in all creatures. It's the job of the mouth to ask questions, anything to keep the teacher from the boring lesson."
Which of these roles do you play in your classes? The sissy? The mouth? The brooding one? Do you change roles as you change classes? Do you waver in between 2 or 3 of these personalities? Describe your classroom identity. Source

2) The antagonist of a story is the person who acts against the protagonist, the story’s principal character. In the story of your life, who is your antagonist? Write a description of this person, and describe the way in which he or she acts against you. Source

3)Write down a story that you tell people that didn’t really happen the way you usually tell it. So many times we have a good story we embellish with exaggerations, switch events for the sake of timing or humor, all kinds of things. Come on, it’s fun! But after you write down the story you tell everybody, think about the same story in its bare-bones, no-frills, true version. Think about the reasons why you twisted the facts around. Source

12 bonus points:

Tracy said...

I think I've seen pictures of Sarah making the duck face.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

I love your Onion title!

My school related Onion article that I've written in my imagination dozens of times always starts out something along the lines of, "XYZ School has recently raised the requirement for children's handwashing to 678 times per day. This increase from 677 times per day is expected to decrease swine flu by 78%!" (or whatever the disease of the day).

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