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  • Writer's pictureMax Melby

Semantics, Dark Chocolate, and Friendship

Sometimes these blog posts have meaningful takeaways. This is not one of those posts... this one is more about sharing something relatable about coffee, chocolate, and the endless arguments of 2e students.

Figure 1: My brain sliding out of my head after listening to 2e middle school arguments.

I don't have a private office... I have a corner of a multipurpose classroom titled, "The Lounge." Our middle school students eat lunch in the Lounge so I get to witness the beauty/chaos of unstructured social time among our 2e middle schoolers. There's a lot of fun to be had during lunch. Fun...

... AND there are a lot of arguments to be had.

Well, maybe they're more like debates.

Stunning examples of semantic manipulation?

Pedantic feels a little harsh/negative, but it might be the most accurate.

Just yesterday, there was a five-person debate about whether or not the following phrase was fair or reasonable:

"If you like dark chocolate, you're probably more likely to like coffee than someone who doesn't."

Figure 2: I didn't watch this show so I don't have the context, but it feels apt.

A group of middle schoolers who typically don't have much concern for dark chocolate, coffee, or regression analysis fully transform into statisticians, anthropologists, and three-Michelin-star chefs seeking the meaning of life through dark chocolate and coffee.

No dissertation defense committee could shake them from their passionately held beliefs and recently uncovered universal truths. (About dark chocolate and coffee). Some points of contention are listed below.

  • What's the percentage of cacao necessary to be deemed dark chocolate?

  • What kind of coffee? There are so many types. Black coffee ≠ frappuccino.

  • Is it plain dark chocolate or dark chocolate ON something? With cherries, maybe?

  • Some people like coffee because they actually like the milky/creamy coffee drinks. Does that mean they like coffee or coffee with milk?

  • White chocolate isn't technically chocolate, so why are even talking about it? (Point of clarity, the student who brought this point up was also the student who brought up white chocolate).

  • Does this still qualify as an opinion if it's an opinion about something that could probably be measured/calculated/researched?

  • Can objective fact outweigh a subjective perspective? Who decides?

  • Dark chocolate isn't good.

  • Dark chocolate is the only good chocolate.

  • Does this conversation even matter? Why are we arguing?

Figure 3: I feel like this one doesn't need an explanation. He gets it. You get it. We get it.

These students are so, so adept at taking relatively straightforward statements, identifying the pillars on which they stand, and then turning those pillars into fulcrums so that the purpose of the initial statement no longer matters... it's all up for debate! It's like a rigorous series of internal consistency checks. They get so caught up in identifying the value of all of the individual components of a statement/argument/request that any moderators (E.g. teachers, parents) need an iron resolve to keep the big picture in mind, let alone relevant.

It's a recurring joke/theme across parents I've spoken with over the years that their 2e kid is a lawyer, attorney, litigator, judge, jury, etc. I think we label our kids that way not just because there's a potential overlap in skill sets, but because they can be exhausting and sometimes you just have to laugh so you don't cry. I don't think that's out of line to admit, is it? Is that subjective or objective? Oh no... the cycle is starting again...

Our kids aren't always charming or delightful, but they're ours. We're here because we know how much potential they have to make changes in their communities and because they deserve the chance to go to a school that accepts them and helps them grow, just like any other kid deserves.

They just don't make it all that easy, do they?

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