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The Teacher v. The Text Message

As a teacher, nothing gets me quite so steamed as a student text messaging in class. Something about the texter’s chasing of apathy with pulverized syntax gets my pedagogical goat.

I’d prefer anything to text messaging and the odious fidgeting in the lap that it occasions. I’d prefer all students pass gas simultaneously than a single one enter a text message. I’d prefer phones ring at high volume, and students answer all calls, conducting intense, wide-ranging conversations wherever possible.

I’d prefer a middle finger knuckle deep up my nose.

Of course, all the above say the same thing. Each says this: “If I could care less about you, your class, and my education, I would. Were it possible to eliminate all care and achieve a state of apathetic nirvana, I would opt for that–although, on second thought, that sounds as though it would require excessive effort. I don’t care enough to care about not caring so much. Oh, and by the way: [Bleep] you, Casey.”

What to do? The students text message, and will continue. The text will fly for generations until our species is so linguistically devolved by shorthand that communication will amount to the grunts which now sound from unwashed talk radio jocks. How can you text message a grunt?

The question, for teachers of 2008, is this: How do we forestall this devolution? I’d like to share some stopgap measures that have worked for me:

1. The Poncho of Shame: Bring yellow ponchos to class. Whenever you spot someone texting, drop a Poncho of Shame on the scholar. You can’t text too well with a poncho on, I can tell you that.

2. The Baseless Accusation: A texter often appears to be engaged in furtive and naughty activity. Accuse the student of lewdness. For example: “What’s that you’re fiddling with in your lap, Petruzelli?” or “I’m glad you feel so comfy in class, Brad. I’m heartened by your love of self.”

3. The Rear Naked Choke: Approach the texting culprit from the rear. Jump on the scholar, wrapping legs about the mid section. Apply a choke to the neck with one forearm firmly placed against the offender’s windpipe. Hold.

If you’re a teacher, feel free to try these out in your own classroom. Maybe these three will work for you.