I’m a language person...a reader…a writer. I have always enjoyed playing with language and still remember some of the jump rope rhymes I used to sing with my friends. “Eeeny Meeny Bepsy Deeny...oooo bop bop sa deeny…” (I have no idea what the words were, but that’s what I said every time I sang this chant.)
As a teacher, I came across a book by Audrey Wood called Bright and Early One Thursday Evening: A Tangled Tale. It caught my attention because the rhymes were so completely nonsensical. After doing some searching, I discovered that this “tangled talk” has been around for quite a while. There is a relatively well-known poem (though I could not find who it is attributed to anywhere) that goes like this:
Ladies and jellyspoons,
I come before you
to stand behind you
and tell you something
I know nothing about.
the day after Friday,
there will be a ladies' meeting
for men only.
Wear your best clothes,
if you haven't any,
and if you can come,
please stay home.
Admission is free,
you can pay at the door.
We'll give you a seat,
so you can sit on the floor.
In the years since, I have often come across many examples of tangled talk in real life. I do it, and I don’t think I’m alone. I want to have balance in my life, so I work until dawn. I want teachers to grow in their craft, so I provide them step by step plans. I want to take risks as long as I won’t fail.
Sometimes, I don’t even realize that what I’m saying and doing don’t align until I write it down. Then, I realize how tangled the logic is. We all do it, and when it is our own personal life...we may be the only ones affected by this doublethink. But if you are an educator...it doesn’t just affect you.
So, I decided to try my hand at some tangled verse. I use myself as the “I” in this because I consider myself first and foremost...a teacher.
They’ll learn to think if they do what I say.
I’ll teach them to be creative in just the right way.
I’ll do all the work so they can learn.
If they’ll just listen, their voice will be heard.
I’ll give them the tools to find all the solutions.
Why they’ll be problem solvers if they will just use them!
I’ll make writing a priority if we have enough time.
I’ll motivate them using all the same interests as mine.
I’ll get them “future ready” by preparing them for ONE test.
The 20th century will be well-staffed if they just do their best.
What we think and what we do in the classroom matters. We have to reflect to see if our practice matches our beliefs. I have met so many amazing teachers and administrators who are pushing boulders up hills that don’t have to exist. If we recognized our own tangled talk, we can change it.
I would love to hear some other tangled thoughts...what are yours?