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Y'all Petty
DeSoto County Alternative Center
Posted On: Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Y’all Petty” 


Merriam-Webster defines the adjective petty as, “having little or no importance or significance”. Many of our students understand what this word means but have a misunderstanding of how it applies in their daily lives. The phasey’all petty” is spoken throughout the school day by our students in reference to teachers and staff. The problem here resides in what our students consider to be “petty”. Most adults understand that the things we consider to be petty change as we mature, and that most children fail to properly categorize “petty” things due to immaturity. These “petty” things tend to fall into two categories: appearance and attitude, which this article will explain in greater detail. 

With regard to the first category, part of the purpose of DCAC is to help students develop an understanding of how their personal appearance tells others a lot about them. DCAC teachers and staff members attempt to model appearances that promote positive connotations for our students. This is achieved through the application of a strict dress code, which describes what students need to wear and how to wear it, as well as proper grooming practices. Both of these practices are used to assist our students in creating habits that will help them to succeed in life. Here is where the problem resides. Most students see these practices and the corrections they receive when they fail to follow them as petty because they do not understand their underlying propose. As education professionals, we are fighting an endless battle against popular culture in an effort to show our students that there is a tricky balance between individuality and conformity. We want our students to express themselves, but such expression needs to be within reason. They tend to forget that despite the examples students observe in the media, most people in our society conform to a particular standard of appearance, and that the closer one adheres to this standard, the easier it is to be successful. 

The second category of attitude is also a value we promote at DCAC. This can be summarized within part of the “Attitude Speech” that all students must learn while at DCAC, which states “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Some students believe teachers and staff are being “petty” when they are reprimanded for their poor attitude. Most of these instances occur in response to directions given to students or questions asked of them. This also becomes a factor when students are expected to communicate tactfully and respectfully with teachers and staff members. At DCAC, we are attempting to show students that if they think before they speak and control their emotions when interacting with people of authority, these exchanges tend to end more positively. Students may find this “petty”, but yet again, life can go a lot more smoothly if one can interact and communicate with others affectively. 

Despite the fact that young people have always had trouble conforming to the societal norms of the previous generation, it has been the responsibility of educators to assist them in developing ways to exist and prosper within those norms. We may be “petty” at times, but in the end, most of our students will look back and thank us for our exhaustive efforts.  

 Ben McChesneyGED teacher


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