Friday, September 26, 2008

All of Them?

It's sometimes frustrating to be an English teacher. I mean, there are ways to write, and they aren't actually optional. Today, as I was making a list of unforgivable errors, like these:

She going to fix the problem.
I am enjoy swimming.
He shop at Target.

...a kid's hand shot up.

"Ms. Braindead says grammar doesn't count on the Regents exam."

"Well, that's true. But don't you want to be able to write well?" I asked

"No, I don't," the kid said, decisively.

"Do you want to pass my class?"

"You can't fail me for that. I'll complain. Can I have the pass?"

"No, you can't have the pass. But feel free to tell the principal your English teacher is making you learn grammar. Maybe I'll get merit pay."

"What's merit pay?"

"Forget it. Let me see your paper."

I looked at the kid's paper, and there wasn't a capital letter on it. This freaked me out a little, since I know for a fact they use them in his native language.

"Didn't your first-grade teacher tell you to use big letters when you start sentences?" I asked, pointing to the first letter of the first paragraph, a plainly lower-case "t."

"Yes, but I forget."

"Well, remember," I said.

15 minutes later I went back, and the kid had corrected only that first letter.

"You want me to do all of them?" he asked.

"Of course," I told him.

He resigned himself to the miserable task. When I came back, he had capitalized the first letter of every line, without regard to where the sentences had begun.

He probably didn't anticipate my being cruel enough to make him rewrite the whole thing. But goshdarn it, it's all part of the learning process.
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