Anne Fitten Glenn — aka “Edgy Mama” — had a fantastic idea to volunteer at her kids’ school. She is helping the fifth graders create a school newspaper.
Here is how it (hilariously) went:
After setting out some blogging rules together (no profanity, no gory details, no TMI, no anonymous, mean or rude comments), I was surfing around, showing them local news sites and blogs, and I stopped for a minute on the Edgy Mama page on the Mountain Xpress Web site. The site was being projected on a huge white screen in front of the class.
There were gasps. “You used the ‘h’ word,“ one kid said. “And the ‘d’ word,“ said another. I glanced up at the projected image, and yes, there was the word “hell,“ in a headline, no less. And the words “damn“ and “suck“ and “piss“ were all easy to spot, in my columns, on the big screen.
I had to explain to a roomful of tittering 11-year-olds (and I by that, I mean giggling, not micro-blogging), why different writing rules apply in different situations. Words that are not appropriate for school can be appropriate for inclusion in an alt-weekly. (I’d already switched the projected screen to a “family-friendly“ newspaper’s Web site that forgoes the h-e-double-hockey stick, but details the latest suicide bombing and murder investigation).
So now we have a new acronym. In addition the ubiquitous NSFW (not safe for work), there’s NAFS (not appropriate for school). Maybe I should label this column NAAFEAK (not always appropriate for elementary-aged kids). Particularly as some kids seem to think they’re going to unearth long-hidden parenting secrets by reading me. Sorry, kids. All you learn by reading Edgy Mama is that us parents are human. And tired. And we just want you to be healthy and happy and to stop whining. And it’s OK to use the h-word if that’s the word you need, at least in an alt-weekly newspaper, but not at school.
I admitted to the class that there are less offensive words that I can use in my writing. I hope they’ll be able to expand their budding vocabularies by using expressions like “infernal deep“ or “fiery pit“ Then I changed the subject (something I am a master at), and segued into a discussion of audience.
I am glad I read this as Ari’s English teacher has asked me to talk to the class about being journalist. While they are not old enough to read my writing, I will keep this in mind the day she asks me to talk to older kids. LOL!
Do you volunteer at your children’s school? How do you contribute?
After a few years on Ari’s school’s board helping largely with publicity and fundraising, I am now volunteering in the classroom by reading to the kids and helping them learn to write. So far, I am enjoying it.