When I was in junior high, the ever-hilarious ""that's what she said"" joke was nonexistent.
Students were sent to the principal's office or given detention for legitimate offenses. One classmate of mine constantly disrespected our history instructor by calling her by her first name, yelling in her face and stealing money from her purse. Other students received detention for mouthing off to teachers, shouting obscenities, drawing male genitalia on homework assignments, harassing fellow schoolmates and defacing school property.
Times have changed since the late nineties, and everyone has gotten considerably more sensitive. These sorts of no-nos still lead to detention, as they should, but some teachers have become much more uptight when it comes to classroom humor and behavior.
The Huffington Post recently published an article called ""Punished For Being Awesome? The Most Ridiculous Detention Slips Of All Time."" The story compiled a slideshow of amusing, ridiculous and unnecessary detention slips that students received.
A teacher at Redmond Junior High gave one student detention for saying, ""that's what she said"" after another student said, ""you have to push it in further."" Sure, this didn't exactly stimulate scholarly classroom discussion, nor did it reflect true maturity on the student's part, but it's an innocuous joke that is certainly not grounds for detention.
No one was hurt, the kid didn't call anyone a name, and there probably wasn't much classroom disruption other than a few minutes of laughter. Why punish a student for making the classroom setting a funnier, more exciting place for everyone? Class clowns give other students something to look forward to when heading off to school. Junior high isn't exactly the highest, happiest point for anybody, and this student was doing his part to make school a little less boring.
There was another pink sheet of paper that justified one student's detention: ""He disrupted class by standing and unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt as he announced he was Superman."" This kind of behavior is definitely rude, especially if the teacher was giving a lecture as the student had his comedic outburst. He should have been sent to the office and kicked out of class but not given detention. There was no malice in this act; the student was just trying to be funny and probably spice up the dull classroom atmosphere.
The Huffington Post includes another detention slip that was given out after a student said ""that's what she said"" in response to a classmate. The teacher wrote at the bottom of the page, ""these inappropriate comments are made too often.""
It's one thing for a student to use swear words in class, but quite another to make clever, discreet ""that's what she said"" jokes. To make a scene about a pre-pubescent teen integrating ""that's what she said"" into classroom discussion is a bit extreme, silly and controlling. Middle school students definitely have the ability to be crude and insubordinate, but they should not face severe consequences for this kind of statement.
Junior high school instructors and teachers everywhere should understand that the maturity level of their students will forever be dangerously low. With that, they should let harmless ""that's what she said"" comments slide. If you think about it, ""that's what she said"" really shouldn't be a cultural taboo, especially in this overly sexualized day and age.
The Huffington Post story included a detention slip that was arguably warranted and deserved. An unnamed student was given detention for receiving oral sex on school property, and this is not okay. It is, however, an example of what should actually land someone detention time, and school administrators should be able to understand that it's much fouler for a student to give oral sex on campus than to say ""that's what she said"" in between giggles.
Instructors, particularly those who teach young teens, have a difficult task at hand, so they should continue punishing the rowdy and callus students who demean others, vandalize school buildings, smoke weed in the restroom and cause actual hysteria. Don't equate ""that's what she said"" jokes to death threats, name-calling, or sexual harassment. Let kids be kids as long as they're not hurting others.
— Laura E. Donovan is a creative writing senior. She can be reached at email@example.com.