This is an absolutely true story: I was in the class.
It was the early 1970s, and I was in 7th grade in Ken Mullen’s “Language Arts” class at La Entrada Jr. High (now Middle) School in Menlo Park, Calif. (The same school in my post Shift Happens.)
The assignment that day was to read aloud from a book; unfortunately, I have no recollection of what book it was, but one student was reading aloud and came across a particular word.
The word was “bitch.” It was used properly, but with the snickers Mr. Mullen stopped to create a Teaching Moment.
“Does anyone know what ‘bitch’ really means?” he asked the class.
One student raised a hand and gave the definition: “A female dog.”
“Correct,” Mr. Mullen said. “That is the proper word that refers to a female dog. Now,” he said, trying to make the lesson stick and to encourage curiosity. “Does anyone know of a word for a male dog?”
Several people were pondering that, but it was Jane Glass, a perky blonde classmate who raised her hand.
“Yes?” Mr. Mullen said, calling on Jane.
It took several minutes before Mr. Mullen could regain control of the class.[Originally published 24 November 2004 in the True Story section of my now defunct Jumbo Joke site.]
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