Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"But You're An English Teacher..."

"Is that a word?"" Can you start a sentence with 'and'"? " Is it okay to use fragments?"

To be an English teacher means that everywhere I go, someone looks to me if a grammatical error has been made.  Or if they think an error is made.  As if I would correct it. 

"Don't do that in front of the English teacher," said in the tone of horror you might use to say, "Don't take your pants off in the restaurant!"

I see English teachers on a continuum.  On one end, you've got the ones who see it as their role to uphold everything that is proper and correct, to defend the Honor of the English Language.  On the other end, you've got the ones whose attitude can best be summed up as ....contrarian.   

Because I look at many things in terms of dog behavior, I see myself as a sassy and adventurous Jack Russel terrier (true--they are famed for their stubbornness and that's definitely one of my flaws).  I see the more "serious" English teachers as chihuahuas (always ready to snap and make a big deal about a trifle).  

(Of course I am generalizing about dog breeds here, which I try not to do, as each dog is an individual, but often breeds do share typical traits).  

The way I see it, the beauty of English is its elasticity; no use getting all worked up about something that is fluid and that even the most educated people can disagree on (i.e. Oxford comma debate).  Our language now looks very different than it did 400 years ago, and I imagine it will look very different 400 years from now.  (Of course, I hold out hope that people will still use words instead of emoji or who knows what.)

My life has been infinitely enriched by my subject, Language Arts.  I truly think I would be dead, had it not been for the impact reading and writing have had on my life.  Notice that I don't say I'd be dead if I didn't have this awesome command of grammatical structures. 

But enriched because Language Arts is the stuff of which real life is made--dreams, hopes, love, birth and death, loss, wonderings.  What it means to be human.   

Barney and Iggy.  Iggy ready to obey a command. Barney ready to subvert the system.

1 comment:

  1. I think that that's interesting, but I also believe that while it is changing if there was no respect for grammatics and rules then writing would be so individualized that no one else could appreciate it.