Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)
New Scientist, May 21, 1964
Onara! (Mark's Song)
Cut the cheese
Let one rip
Pass the gas
Let a stinker
Farting is an art
Onara, nara nara
Onara, nara nara
Onara nara nara
Onara nara nara
Let it rip! These lyrics follow on from a discussion about the Sorry song, and were penned (and then released) by Mark de Boer who wondered aloud when I might produce a song including the words above. Mark, your wait is over!
Mark's original title was Who Farted? I changed this as I that sounds more like a dialogue and I may make such a duet at another date. Actually Mark wrote in a subsequent email that he would never teach these words in a class no matter what the setting. Somewhat disappointing. Still, if the song is not useful hopefully it will be entertaining!
I've never specifically made a point of teaching crude language. But I hope I wouldn't avoid it either. If students ask, do teachers not have a duty to respond? I guess it depends upon the relationship one has with the students and their reason for wanting to know. Curiosity is a powerful force and especially important to respond to. On the other hand if students were seeking to test or embarrass me I would rather focusing on improving relations than pander to what would in effect be a negative request.
Bottom line - everybody farts! I think it is good if we can laugh and not get uptight about it. Some children fart if they get nervous. Fart is one of those magic words that most children really want to know. I've even had toddlers' mums ask me how to say the English word. Some children really like toilet humour and some don't.
Children are generally fascinated by subjects that adults find awkward, probably because adults do find them awkward. There are plenty of words I would hesitate or avoid telling children. For me, fart isn't one of them. It's not as if it can be taken out of context or used aggressively very easily. I'd be much more wary of teaching words like "stupid" or "idiot" because children can hurt each other much more easily with these words. Many children go through a phase of using toilet words - once they discover that they are just words that hold no power over adults they soon get bored with them. If one child tried to get another into trouble with me by claiming that the first child had farted I'd just say "Me too! and make a pretend fart if I couldn't rustle one up at the time. I think we can be caring and model compassion. When we do I don't think we need to over-worry about what words children learn. It's what they do with the knowledge that is more important.
Anyway, If you do use the song please contact me and I'll post your contribution below. And even if you don't use the song, comments are welcome.
13th February 2005
PS Today is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden - how long before bombing is recognised as a crime against humanity?
getfile: Onara! (Mark's song)
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