Teacher Says “Mewing” Trend Among Students Might Be Her Final Straw

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The old sarcastic “talk to the hand” has just received an upgrade. It’s called “mewing” and it originated as a DIY technique to strengthen your jawline.

However, once the kids got in on the trend, there was no stopping them. They took the face exercise and made it into a silent protest meant to dismiss others and signal they’re not interested in engaging in a conversation.

But now that it’s spread to classrooms, mewing has been increasingly subjected to criticism, too. One of the opponents is Teresa Newman, a middle and high school teacher, who took to TikTok to explain why she believes it’s so rude.

More info: TikTok

Image credits: Taylor Flowe (not the actual photo)

“I think this mewing trend with students is probably going to be the final reason that I decide to never return to the classroom to teach ever again”

“If you’re not familiar with what mewing is, basically it’s a gesture that kids are making towards other people that signal to that person that they don’t care what they have to say. Or they’re too busy being silent doing the mewing technique to respond to them. It’s basically just another way to be dismissive to somebody.

The gesture stems from this technique where people are like thrusting their tongue inside of their mouth to like strengthen their jaw line. If you haven’t watched the documentary Open Wide on Netflix, you should definitely do yourself a favor and watch it because the technique itself stems from some really problematic New Age orthodontic techniques, which also stem from eugenics.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

“The problem that I have with mewing in the classroom and at school is that kids are using it as a way to be disrespectful to their teachers without their teachers understanding what it is they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

It’s a nonverbal gesture, it doesn’t really signify anything specific unless you know exactly what it means and why they’re doing it. And it’s basically a way for the kids to not have to answer verbally any questions or respond to anything that the teacher or the adult in the room has to say. They’re doing it to each other as well. But I’m seeing this trend of them directing it more towards the adults in the room.

Of course, the kids think it’s funny because the adult in the room doesn’t understand, they look clueless, it makes them look stupid, it makes them look out of the loop, but it’s also a power play on the part of the kid. It’s a way for them to not have to take accountability for things that are being asked of them. It’s a way for them to not have to participate in class. And the teacher can’t really respond in a way that’s helpful or useful. Because if they try to get them in trouble, if they try to question the gesture, if they try to respond in some way that’s going to stop the gesture from happening again, there’s really no way to prove that the gesture is in and of itself disrespectful or harmful.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

“This trend is also fueled by social media. And every kid in the room that sees somebody do the mewing gesture to a teacher is going to find it funny. They’re going to respond in a way that encourages them to do it over and over again.

I can hear and smell the comments for this video coming from a mile away, especially if this lands on 18-and-under TikTok, because it’s so easy for kids to look at criticisms of this gesture and this trend and go, ‘Why are you doing all this? Why are you so mad? It’s just a joke. It’s just a meme.’ When, in reality, they absolutely understand how dismissive and disrespectful it is of the person that’s trying to engage with them, especially in a learning environment.

They also understand how hurtful it can be when somebody is trying to engage with you as far as a conversation or asking you questions, or trying to get you involved in a lesson or an activity or conversation and they do this. That just tells them that you have no interest in engaging with them at all, for whatever reason, because they just don’t like you or they don’t care what you have to say.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

“And it’s so easy for them to just play it off as a joke, like it’s not that big of a deal. But it is that big of a deal. And I think that’s what gets me about the trend is that for us teachers, all we do is try so hard to engage our students in our lessons and to get them involved in class. For something like this to come along and basically be made into this like nonchalant ‘Oh, we’re just playing around, we’re just having fun.’ But in reality, the play and the fun is really hurtful. It’s really disruptive to the learning environment as well.

I really don’t care if you talk to me in a way that makes me feel like, ‘Oh, you’re just a fun-ruiner’ or ‘Oh, you must be fun at parties.’ I don’t give a s**t, honestly. There’s always an appropriate place and time to use a meme or to use some kind of trend like that. But in a classroom environment, for kids to continue to do this every single day over and over to people who are just trying to give them an enriching educational experience, it pi**es me off. And I don’t find it funny at all.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

“To me, it’s more indicative of a larger issue that we’re facing nowadays, where kids don’t take anything seriously. You can easily say that kids have never taken anything seriously. But I can push back on that and say that there are a lot of things and a lot of scenarios that kids did take seriously to a certain extent. But now it seems like there’s more kids in the classroom that cannot take one single second of the day seriously. To take everybody’s feelings for granted, they don’t care how what they say or do makes people feel. Everything is a meme. Everything is a joke. And if you want to push back on that attitude at all, you’re just seen as a joke yourself.

No one in their work environment, and school is a work environment for children, no one in their work environment should be able to respond to someone who is sincerely trying to engage them in conversation with a silent gesture. You know, it’s smug, it’s rude, and I don’t care how much you think it’s fun or funny, or how young you are or how little you take seriously the situation in which you’re doing it. It’s all of those things wrapped into one.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

“You know, we’re not asking kids not to be kids. We’re not asking kids not to participate in trends. We’re not asking kids to take everything in their life seriously. But when someone walks into the classroom and really sincerely asks them genuine questions, engages them in lessons, engages them in activities, makes them think critically, and all they have in response is something stupid like this, it should piss teachers off. Though, hopefully, this at least arms you with some knowledge of what that actually means, and when somebody does that to you in the classroom, you aren’t going to feel like such a goon and you can respond in a way that’s going to be more effective in the future.”

Image credits: teresakayenewman

The educator’s video has gone viral

@teresakayenewman What is the “mewing” gesture, why are students mewing their teachers, and why is it harmful and disruptive to the learning environment? #teacher ♬ original sound – Newman Music Academy

And it has received a lot of strong reactions

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