Barbaric Yawp!

Noelle Mischenko in front of Capitol building in Washington D.C.Public Web Presence:
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I’m not as read up on my transcendentalist poetry as I would like, so my first thought upon reading the phrase “barbaric yawp” was not Whitman, but Seuss. In Horton Hears a Who, little JoJo cries out from the flower “YOPP!,” making himself heard to Horton’s friends and saving his tiny Who-world. Despite the difference in spelling, I’m sure Dr. Seuss knew both the meaning and the literary baggage the word carries. But it is used to somewhat different ends in these two texts: Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” is an almost palpable, powerful expression of animal self, while JoJo’s “YOPP!” seeks affirmation of his existence while managing to assert it on his own.

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I bring up these different yawps because I’m currently in a phase of life where I’m sounding far more “YOPP!”s out into the world than “barbaric yawps.” And, I’d like to think it has to do with something more than feeling small. Having just completed my first year of teaching, I can see that it has been (and will be) an ongoing process to figure out my place in education. I have a sense of what kind of teacher I am, which I “YOPP!” through the choices I make; essentially asking “Is this okay? Am I doing this right?” and I continuing forward with each positive response (maybe a little like echolocation?). Here are some of my most recent “YOPP!”s that I think give the best sense of who I am, and what I’m out to accomplish.

I “YOPP!” as I transform from an English to Computer Science teacher to meet the needs of the school. I have a MA in English and now teach computer coding, which I basically learned along with my first class. In the fall, I will be offering the new AP Computer Science Principles course. I love learning about technology, and I had room in my day (and the time for PD) to make it happen, so why not give it a try?

Items Unexpectedly Found in My Car This Morning:
5 pairs of shoes;
4 coffee cups (all mysteriously underneath the front seats);
3 copies of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House”;
2 pieces of tupperware my mother wants back;
1 Raspberry Pi computer;
And a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding, though I did find a small, unhappy potted plant)

I “YOPP!” through the partnerships I build between the school and the local community. I am “born, bred and wed” Talkeetna, so many relationships were already in place, but I’ve jumped on every chance to bring the community into the classroom and vise versa. This was especially useful as we developed a Customer Service/Tourism class. The relationship is mutually beneficial and serves the area as a whole, so I say work it!

I “YOPP!” in support of work/life balance. Truly, I’m still figuring out what this one means to me. I spend an inordinate amount of time at school or thinking about school completely by choice. In my free time, I take classes myself (that are usually about school). When you love your job everything kind of gets jumbled when you try and delineate work from life. I also have a really nice husband and a dog that deserve more of my time. I think this “YOPP!” is looking for confirmation that it’s okay to say “no,” which I may be too stubborn/single-minded to hear at the moment. So, I’ll just keep trying to “YOPP!” it into existence.

There is probably something a little unhealthy in the “YOPP!” concept if you look too deeply. One shouldn’t bank on the affirmation of others to define themselves. But bringing who you are to the table and asking for some affirmative guidance has been helpful as I try to locate and assert myself in this new phase of life. As far as my career goes, I want to be like JoJo—pushing yourself to stand out, in hopes of finding your place in the bigger picture.

7 thoughts on “Barbaric Yawp!

  1. Hi Noelle,
    I enjoyed getting to know you through your post. I thought it was very well written! I think the list you made of what you found in your car is quite funny. It makes me think back to when I spent more time in my car. I work at home now so my commute time has been eliminated. I do miss the wind up and wind down time that goes along with that commute. I always found that to be good reflection time.

    • Thanks, Heidi! I use to commute to UAA a couple times a week when I was taking grad classes. I also kind of miss that alone time, now I just use that experience as an excuse (“well, I just got so use to keeping everything in the car…”).

  2. I thought, I should go see what Noelle did for this. You did not disappoint. Clearly, you have the same problem I have with making a jumbled posts with incomplete thoughts — I am amazed at how you were able to weave the YOPP! theme throughout your prose. I came here to start a conversation, not critique your work, but I can’t help it! I’m looking forward to taking this Digital Citizenship/nousion journey with you this semester.

    What is a Raspberry Pi computer? (Yes, I could look it up, but that defeats the purpose of me being here to start a conversation for my Wing It assignment.) And how is it that you unexpectedly found these items in your car? The image of you opening the car door shocked to find these items made me chuckle.

    • To my husband’s dismay, I use my car like a moving closet and I happen to be disgustingly messy with my personal things 🙂 After moving all kinds of crap from my classroom back to the house it just got a little bit unmanageable, so after a week or so I was forced to clean. A Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer that in its case is just smaller than my cellphone. I joined the Robotics Club at school and we’re all excited about trying to get students to carry a Pi as their personal device. I made my website banner on Canva! Super easy once I figured out which size template to use 🙂

  3. My best friend nicknamed my car “The Tool” because that’s indeed how I treated it. Your list of what is to be found in your car very much reminds me of what would be found in my own…except my list would be (Sadly) much longer and not all that unexpected by anyone who’s endured a ride in it.

    I really enjoyed how you ended up approaching this less-common “first post” assignment and I will surely reference Dr. Seuss and the YOPP for future #nousionauts…it’s too good not to!

  4. First off, might I compliment you on your spiffy blog? It just looks so…crisp. What template do you use for it, I’m genuinely interested in changing. The ‘less is more’ approach is working for me. Also, regarding your position as a new teacher, did you have to take the Praxis II before teaching the computer science class and how did you go about finding your teaching job?

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