Oh My God!

I’m drowning in a sea of ideological discomfort, people.

Our university purchased a batch of old and stale chalk that keeps breaking whenever you try to write. I use the chalkboard a lot in my language courses, and it annoys me that the chalk keeps breaking and interrupting the flow of my class.

And what normally happens when people are frustrated? Right you are, they interject. Since this is a Spanish class, I interject in Spanish. And today my students decided to censor me.

“What did you just say when the chalk broke?” they asked.

“I said ‘Ay, Dios mio!'”

“What does that mean?”

“It means ‘Oh my God’.”

In response, I heard a small lecture about taking God’s name in vain.

It takes a real lot for students to make me angry. They can come in late, fail to show up for the exam, forget to hand in the homework, text in class, but I remain calm and cheerful. But when people try to sanitize my speech, I get livid. It isn’t even like I used any sort of X-rated vocabulary. And if I had done that, nobody has the right to censor me either.

Why do people have to be so stuck up and censorious?

33 thoughts on “Oh My God!”

  1. Are you sure that every time you enter your classroom you’re not stepping through a time portal? I haven’t heard the “taking God’s name in vain” argument since I was five years old. (That would be… 1969. This was from my parents who both swore like sailors.)

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  2. I was certainly taught not to take God’s name in vain. i think I mentioned somewhere here that it was a shock to me in college that it was not considered bad in French.

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      1. Well actually, it’s supposed to instill respect for God — you’re not supposed to “call” on him for trivial things, or just say “God” for no reason. That’s the reasoning behind it, anyway. I don’t find it scary — just old fashioned. My grandmother would scold me even for using euphemisms like “darn” and “gosh” (that’s a cleaned-up “damn” and “God”).

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      2. Oh yeah that’s an entirely other irritating thing. BTW — have you told them yet that “Jesus” is a popular Spanish boy’s name? 😈

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  3. This may seem crazy, but nowadays everyone expects a teacher to use power point. Then, of course, you do not require chalk. I sympathize with you. But administrators and students do not understand the nature of education. Educators, sometimes – but only the non-lazy like you and I – do so. So continue to make your noble defense for education!

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  4. I think using Power Point is almost always a mistake. It takes away all spontaneity. It also requires more tedious, meaningless, prep time than I want to put in. I am a much better improv lecturer than I am an actor presenting a rehearsed presentation. There is also the irrestible temptation to try to include too much information in a Power Point assisted lecture.

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    1. I tried once to use a PP in a language course and God, what a disaster! I’m not even trying it again.

      But the problem of this nasty batch of fragile chalk that our university purchased to save money remains.

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      1. I learned at the conference I was at in Mexico City last week that there is a hardware/software combination which allows a professor to write on a tablet with a pen. The image projects onto the screen as it is written/drawn/ etc. This allows the professor to maintain eye contact with students; it also has the advantage that once something is written, it can be brought back to the screen later if there is a question or something. I have not seen this in operation, but a colleague at another university says he uses it all the time now. He, like me, would never use Power Point. I suppose the TV camera focused on a sheet of paper would work just as well, except for the flipping back to a version without a picture, for example.

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      2. “I learned at the conference I was at in Mexico City last week that there is a hardware/software combination which allows a professor to write on a tablet with a pen. The image projects onto the screen as it is written/drawn/ etc. This allows the professor to maintain eye contact with students; it also has the advantage that once something is written, it can be brought back to the screen later if there is a question or something.”

        Just out of curiosity, are you talking about the Smart Board? We use those where I go to school.

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    1. Of course, I was trying to be clever, and now I feel guilty for using the “f” word on your blog. Sorry if I offended you. :-/

      Anyway. I know you believe in God. I don’t. If I said “Oh my God,” colloquially, and someone said that I shouldn’t take the lord’s name in vain, I’d probably think to myself, but not say, “If you believe in that sort of thing…”

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  5. God’s name in vain? Wow, your students are really prudes. Are you sure they were not just pulling your leg? 🙂

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  6. I think one of my friends told me that, or I read it in a book somewhere, and I always used “goulash” instead of “God” ever since. Unless it was another language. I actually kind of like the sound of it in other languages.

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  7. I find this so strange. I live in Germany and teach English at a special needs school. I’ve been learning German only as long as I’ve been here, so naturally I’ve picked up a lot of my language from the kids I teach. I was in my own German lesson today (ie. where I’m one of the students) and not only did I teach my teacher a new ‘Jugendsprache’ swear word she didn’t know, but she actually wrote it on the board and led into a conversation with the rest of the class about swear words in German. No one thought it was inappropriate – but then, at 23, I’m the youngest in the class by several years, so maybe we’re just not so easily shocked?

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