Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Duly Noted

We've probably all done it.  Either directly or as a conduit.  It's been going on for years in most classrooms, if not all.  Part of the fun is that it needs to be clandestine.  There is risk involved.  But information too.  Passing notes.  And now it will most certainly be a thing of the past, another casualty of the new technology.
Recent studies suggest that in class note passing is being replaced by texting.  It's not the same is it?  How could it be?  Certainly the urgency is familiar, and  no doubt the themes, ideas, and gossipy nature.  The look, however is quite different.  Risk, yes, but somehow, in this age of thousands of instant messages daily, an even milder risk.  Unless you factor in that most teachers will confiscate a cell phone...but not for long.  Parental need to be in contact in the era of school lockdowns and shootings will always trump the nuisance factor.
So a tearful goodbye to those juicy notes that students have passed for ages.
In my 33 years in the classroom there certainly were some memorable notes.  Sometimes, I'd find them on the floor while cleaning up after a long day.  All that drama and the receiver hadn't the good sense to even find the waste basket.  Occasionally I'd intercept them.  My policy was to snatch a note mid-pass and rather cooly put in in the back pocket of my pants while suggesting the sender or recipient come back after school to retrieve the precious message.  I got pretty good at it too, never missing a beat if the class was reading aloud or taking a test, or if we were in the middle of a discussion, I could get the job done.
On occasion the notes were never claimed.  Just forgotten.  More than once, while doing laundry I'd find a note and enjoy the contents.  Usually they were a big disappointment.  Noting really earthshaking just some catty remark or a question about the time or date or place of a party or game.  Sometimes there was relationship drama.  That too was ephemeral and seldom had the same meaning or importance 24 hours later.
Of course I did find a few very revealing notes, including the time place and monetary amount for an upcoming drug deal.  Can't recall the outcome there.
Classroom notes did reveal something else that I found quite relevant.  Writing voice.  Kids that struggled trying to conceive an "official" academic sounding voice had no problem showing creativity, vocabulary, and real emotion when they wrote the notes they passed.  That cannot happen with texting for a number of reasons but the two most obvious are that all texting looks the same unlike the color, size, and shape of handwriting and even the paper it's on.  The language is different 2.  See what i mean.
I noticed long ago that students aren't the only ones passing notes in school.  Attend any faculty meeting and you'll see many of the same behaviors by teachers.  Seems like the ones who are the biggest complainers of those behaviors are often the biggest participators in the very same behaviors when they in a meeting.
There are a number of collections of student-passed notes.  Like the rhymes in autograph books and yearbooks they are spicy and revealing, and clever, and poignant.  They are also soon to be a thing of the past.

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