Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creative Subversion; Or, How to Teach Writing Mechanics Without Really Trying

I engaged in a little creative subversion at my new school recently. I decided to do something that's JUST. NOT. DONE anymore. I decided to do something so unpopular, so controversial, indeed so dangerous, that it might have cost me my rating.

Yes, that's right. I taught a lesson on writing mechanics.

I photocopied handouts with rules. I circled mistakes on students' papers. I made them write down proper usages of punctuation marks. I did all that and so much more.

And it felt GOOD.

In fact, I bookmarked some EXERCISES in a WORKBOOK that I might photocopy and make my students do.

How about THAT?

I know. I'm a terrible teacher. I'm supposed to assume that my students will magically figure out the rules of the conventions of the English language simply by being wide-eyed ingenues before the great literature of the world and writing about their lives, this despite the fact that relatively few of them have learned any great life lessons at their tender ages. This is what I'm supposed to do.

But some things have changed. I'm at a new school in which, against all reason, the administration seems to trust me to teach students things that they ought to know. That helps, but more so than that, I have realized that teaching usage conventions the stupid way has produced, for me, fifteen-year-olds who can't use commas properly and aren't even sure what they are. So I'm going to teach them. Because that's what I do. Ignorance is not bliss.

Jeez, what will I do next? Make everyone in the class read the same story? Force kids not to copy research reports from Wikipedia? STOP ME BEFORE I TEACH AGAIN!
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