When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I got to sixth grade, I put away childish things. Such as boring words like cool and fun and good and bad, which in an effort to promote more expressive writing, the Wall Street Journal says are now banned in many classrooms.
Middle-school teacher Leilen Shelton wrote the book Banish Boring Words in 2009, but she is by no means the only teacher to take up this, uh, quixotic crusade. The WSJ cited a handful of instructors who’ve declared them dead in their classrooms. Some go as far as to put words like walk, run, very, and go on the Naughty List. They want their students to speak and write more descriptively, more colorfully, with more pizazz and panache.
Her pupils know better than to use a boring word like “said.” As Ms. Shelton put it, “ ‘Said’ doesn’t have any emotion. You might use barked. Maybe howled. Demanded. Cackled. I have a list.”
So moms and dads, perhaps you should be less worried about cusses that rhyme with bit or bunt or there once was a girl from Nantucket. They’re not the problem, because they’re at least colorful and lively. But are your kids doing enough howling and cackling and demanding? (Actually, they probably are. Never mind.) My mother used to say that profanity was a sign of a limited vocabulary, but according to a large army of dictionary-humping teachers, she may have been wrong. School is cooler than I remembered.