Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Going Forward, This Old Teacher Resists "Going Forward" - LA Progressive

Going Forward, This Old Teacher Resists "Going Forward" - LA Progressive:

Going Forward, This Old Teacher Resists “Going Forward”

old english teacher


Much of my work life was spent sharing what I’d learned about language with students in Freshman composition classes, drawing attention to errors in punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, grammar, and diction. I was drawn to the profession because language interested me from a very early age. I loved learning new words. I loved reading, an activity often discouraged even by my mother who feared I’d turn into a “book worm.”
My love of language led me to a life that involved reading large quantities of very bad writing. Over the course of some 40 years, I read tens of thousands of student papers, millions of words committed to paper largely by young people who would rather have been doing almost anything else.

Over the course of some 40 years, I read tens of thousands of student papers, millions of words committed to paper largely by young people who would rather have been doing almost anything else.

Reading those words was often the most tiresome sort of drudgery, but I kept faith with what I saw as my duty to those young scribblers, always reading what they wrote, pointing out mistakes, writing comments meant to be useful. It’s called teaching, and I never could figure out a way to tell students how to write better without first diagnosing what they were doing wrong.
Some of my colleagues, however, found ways to rationalize not assigning much writing in writing classes, or not reading that writing if they did. I always thought they were cheating, and that students were the ones being cheated. What I knew about writing had come, in no small part, through the diligence of my own teachers, men and women who circled my misspellings, underlined the words I was using without fully understanding their meanings, or writing sentences that were garbled, even though they made perfect sense to me when I wrestled those Going Forward, This Old Teacher Resists "Going Forward" - LA Progressive:

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