Blame it on the media hype machine, but the only book I have seen any of my freshmen reading this year is “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Every day my world history course has had to compete with bondage and anal beads. I have seen both the Spanish and Portuguese versions of the book. The boys read it, the girls read it. It is as prevalent in my regular classes as it is in my honors classes. Even in my lowest level classes where every student is in remedial reading, that unmistakeable black and grey cover appears. Just imagine how reading scores would jump if they included passages from “Fifity Shades of Grey” instead of articles about multivitamins? Using context clues, what does sado-masochism mean? After reading the articles, write an argumentative essay in favor or against bondage chambers. Don’t forget your counterclaim and to cite your sources!  Is “Fifty Shades of Grey” the answer to the American education crisis? Would it really be so bad if our students showed their reading comprehension skills by interpreting soft core mommy porn? I guess it might get problematic when the author’s purpose question comes up. Is the answer A) to provide titillation for bored housewives or B) to educate adolescent boys about nipple clamps?

Call me a prude, but I don’t want my students asking me if I’m going to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” for Valentine’s Day. I feel rather disgusted when a fourteen year old girl sucking on a blow pop reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” tells me I have to read the book because, “It’ll make your toes curl Miss.” By the way, do students even bother to learn their teachers’ names anymore? I don’t think I’ve been called anything but a generic “Miss” all year. When I overhear my students refer to their other female teachers, they never call them by their names either. All of their female teachers seem to have the same first and last names, “F…ing”  Maybe it’s because I teach in Miami, but the girls all come dressed like they’re going to a belly dancing class with their midriffs hanging out (and my school has a uniform policy!). The latest trend in fourteen year old girl fashion is three inch long acrylic stripper nails. They can’t even type answers into their tablets or iPads because their nails get in the way.

I guess I’m just a little bit cranky because I thought I would escape the nightmare that is Valentine’s Day as a high school teacher since the holiday fell on the weekend this year. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to deal with my students being hidden behind balloons and giant teddy bears and my class being interrupted by students delivering flower-grams every five minutes.  In retrospect, maybe those teddy bears and heart shaped balloons aren’t so bad after all. It’s nice to see that innocence and romance haven’t been completely forgotten in the shadows of the handcuffs and leather straps of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”