Thursday, February 02, 2006

As I Sit And Grade Essays, I Wonder...

...why the hell does every kid in the damn world start a conclusion with the phrase "These are the reasons why..." ? Why the hell does every damn kid in the world want to write a topic sentence that begins "Im goint to tell you about..." ? Who are you elementary school teachers who are propogating this swill? Who are you 4th and 5th grade teachers who put little check-pluses next to those sentences? It's just not possible they have ALL hit upon the same awful stylistic language without reinforcement. Bring me the reinforcers! I want their red pens and misplcaed smiley faces! I want their terrible writing assignments and tin ear for language! I swear I'm going to go blind if I read those hideous, insepid phrases one more time. I'm lighting them on fire tomorrow. Seriously. Gonna put em on a big piece of paper and set the damn thing on fire. No more! We will not write like this anymore! If I see them on a piece of paper, then I'm lighting that one on fire. Gonna lock the door so no one can come in. No new District personnel, no head-popping admin. The tortured phraseology of elementary school mis-teaching is going up in flames!

9 Comments:

Blogger posthipchick said...

In my stupid effing elementary credentialing program, the elementary teachers are TOLD to have them start essays like this. Why?!?! It freaks me out. That has NEVER been a good way to start an essay- in 1st grade, 7th grade, or college.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Güggs said...

I too am tired of it. Closing an essay with, "I hope you enjoyed my report," or the perennial "The End." I don't teach my students to write this way.

The End.

7:35 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Bring me their heads! I want their heads! On platters! Let us cast our nets wide and deep! Let us seek a newer world! No more I say, no more!

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's a head popping admin?

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to be able to defend my fellow elementary teachers, but unfortunately you are right. I had a teacher I was teaming with that taught all her AG(!) students to end their stories with "In a nutshell". As someone with a degree in Creative Writing, I somehow managed to hide my horror long enough to 'suggest' that I take over the writing teaching for our classes!
Poshipchick is right though - a lot of teachers are taught to teach this way. They are not to blame for their ignorance.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Ms. M said...

All the kids in my school do this too. I feel like it is because the teacher tell them to "tell the reader what you just told them in your essay in the conclusion" and then the kids take this as literally writing "I just told you that X,Y, and Z." All the teachers seemed to be annoyed by this type of writing so I feel like they are not explicitely telling them to use those words.

When my kids come to ESL I try to break them of the habit. Often the solution is as simple as taking the sentence they wrote and crossing out the words "I just told you that" and then leaving the rest of the sentence.

11:07 AM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Ahhhhh, kwitcherbitchin' :-P

I get essays that begin with, "Hi, my name is ____ and I'm going to tell ya about ____ cuz...."

Ante up, anyone?

8:53 PM  
Blogger TMAO said...

Anonymous wrote:
"Poshipchick is right though - a lot of teachers are taught to teach this way. They are not to blame for their ignorance. "

Look, I don't want to jump on anyone or go overboard on something, but these (hypothetical) people ARE to blame for their ignorance. This is their craft and presumably thier knowledge base. If they taught that the square root of 25 was 4.5, or the civil war was an unwarranted act of federal aggression, or that the only element on the periodic table was the element of surprise, we WOULD blame them for their ignorance and nevermind what they did or did not learn at a methods class.

Good writing is not magic, and nor is it subjective.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Alexis Walker said...

You know, my talented intelligent well-educated sixth graders do the same damn thing, and I KNOW their elementary teachers didn't teach them to do it. I know their teachers, because I'm in a pre-K-12 prep school. And I'm bloody tired of having the teachers farther along blame me for somehow not teaching them a bunch of other things I DID teach them.

I call the horrid sentences "picture frames" and tell them to take the dang things out. They do. But they'll still be doing it when they reach my daughter who teaches freshman composition in college. It's shoving water up-hill, guys. That's teaching.

5:57 PM  

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