Hey teach, what’s up with the grummer?

Schoolteachers are supposed to be our grammatical beacons, no?

Well … no. Not my kids’ teachers, at any rate, and judging from my conversations with friends and colleagues, not their kids’ teachers, either.

This just in from my 14-year old son, who’s taking an online civics course this summer: In a group email to the students, his teacher stated that “I’ll be marking you according to how well-reasoned your comments on other classmates posts are.” I could more easily forgive the lack of apostrophe after “classmates” if I thought it was a mere slip of the finger, but I know better. My 16-year-old daughter tried to persuade her Grade 10 ENGLISH teacher that the word “everyones” does not exist – in other words, that there are no circumstances under which it doesn’t require an apostrophe between the final E and the S. The teacher (Did I mention she was an ENGLISH teacher?) remained dubious.

Speaking of persuasion, when my daughter was in Grade 2, her teacher asked the class to write persuasive essays on a topic near and dear to their hearts – which, if memory serves, revolved around horses for about 95 percent of the girls (not my daughter, though).  After said teacher had evaluated the essays, she posted them on the wall outside her classroom, with the comment “Very pursuasive!”  written at the bottom of almost every one. I could almost hear a cat purring in the background.

It gets worse – much worse. The teacher of one of my son’s friends recently commented on his work as follows: “Some very good ideas, but watch out for the grammerical mistakes.” I kid you not.

And here’s my all-time favourite, spotted in a worksheet on latitude and longitude distributed by one of my daughter’s Grade 5 teachers: “In addition, it also has other lines as well.”

Would we accept it if our doctors mistook arteries for veins or if our accountants had trouble with figures? Why doesn’t the Ministry of Education spend some of our tax dollars to research the problem, conduct a formal inquiry, and produce a report to guide us out of this mess? Never mind, we have enough instances of blind leading blind already.

Edited to add: This post was intended as a lighthearted jab at what I consider a problem in our education system. I obviously don’t mean to tar all teachers with the same brush. I know there are some highly competent teachers around and have no doubt that some of them could put my own word knowledge to shame.

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8 Responses to Hey teach, what’s up with the grummer?

  1. Heather says:

    As a retired teacher I feel slightly under attack, but have to admit that not all teachers use perfect English. I once had to correct the teacher across the hall when he used the word “wierd” in the title of his hallway bulletin board. I told him that weird is weird. I’m also a bit afraid for my daughter who just graduated from OISE because I am constantly correcting her when she says things like, “Me and Peter are going…”.

    • Heather, I gave some more thought to your comment and decided to add an explanatory p.s. to my post. I know I bristle at generalizations that don’t apply to me or my family, even if I believe them to have some statistical validity. Two recent examples that came my way: “Let’s face it, we’re writers because we suck at math” and “boys and girls have SUCH different interests, don’t they?”

  2. Hi Heather,

    Sorry the post left you feeling a bit under attack — certainly not my intention, and I’m obviously not referring to all or even the majority of today’s teachers. But even if 20 or 30 percent of them don’t know their grammar ABCs, that’s too many, don’t you think?

  3. Val. says:

    Let’s not talk about the current pedagogical tendency to allow children to “feel” and “guess” their way through grammar and spelling. So sad!

  4. *Screams, runs away in horror*
    *Returns trembling*

    This will be an interesting post to share with the Word Nerd Defence League, not to mention my Facebook feed, which includes at least one high school student…

  5. Mary Rizza says:

    These problems pale when compared with the frequent and hilarious misplaced modifiers found in Toronto newspaper articles. I guess editors prioritize political correctness over English composition.

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