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by Peter Moskos

May 12, 2011

"This damn job could be work"

No doubt you, like most others, think the professorial life is all glamor, fame, leisure, wine, and women. That's just what I want you to think with my frequent vacations and the fact there's a good chance I might still be in my bathrobe at 3pm (working at home, mind you). Such perks do have their advantages.

Nevertheless, there's nothing more mind-numbing than, at 1AM, correcting and editing writing assignments filled with basic grammar errors. I can't help but wonder why my dear students didn't learn sentence structure in high-school? Trying to teach basic writing skills--and taking the time to assign and correct writing assignments--may be the most important thing I do for my students. At least that's what I tell myself. But it's not what I thought I'd being doing when I got my PhD. Nor is it fun. Hour for hour, I'd prefer to be policing (does that bumper sticker exist?). So here's to high-school English teachers... or at least the ones that teach good old-fashioned grammar.

And then, just when I start thinking of complaining, I think of what my dad always said about being a professor, "It beats real work!" And you can't beat summers off.

[Update: here's a great link from the comments section: Death to High-School English, by Kim Brooks. And here's my attempt at a solution: Grammar 101.]


Martin said...

Have you seen this article in Salon? "Death to High School English"

PCM said...

That's great! Hits the nail on the head.

And even goes to my high-school, which taught me to write very well, thank you very much. But I graduated in 1989. I had good English teachers three out of four years.

I only remember one teacher, a middle-school teacher, who taught grammar the old-fashioned way. But I was 13 and not ready for her. I hated it so much that I managed to get transferred to a difference English class where the peppy young teacher, in class, had routine breakdowns (pretty big ones).

It also helped that I had parents who wrote and took writing seriously.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that you end sentences with prepositions (i.e. to) and linking verbs (i.e. is). Technically speaking, that is not correct.

PCM said...

Blogger went down for a few days. Upon return, all the comments were stripped from recent posts (ie: this one).

But to he who criticized my ending sentences in prepositions... you've got to be kidding! There's a difference between writing in proper English (writing in complete sentences and observing subject-verb agreement) and following arbitrary grammar rules invented by 19th-century Latin freaks. The latter, to quote Churchill, is something up with which I shall not put.