Posts Tagged ‘Myths’

Things Your Teachers Taught You That Are Wrong

January 4, 2017


A great list compiled and written by Misty Adoniou:


1. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction

Let’s start with the grammatical sin I have already committed in this article. You can’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

Obviously you can, because I did. And I expect I will do it again before the end of this article. There, I knew I would!

Those who say it is always incorrect to start a sentence with a conjunction, like “and” or “but”, sit in the prescriptivist camp.

However, according to the descriptivists, at this point in our linguistic history, it is fine to start a sentence with a conjunction in an op-ed article like this, or in a novel or a poem.

It is less acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction in an academic journal article, or in an essay for my son’s high school economics teacher, as it turns out.

But times are changing.

2. You can’t end a sentence with a preposition

Well, in Latin you can’t. In English you can, and we do all the time.

Admittedly a lot of the younger generation don’t even know what a preposition is, so this rule is already obsolete. But let’s have a look at it anyway, for old time’s sake.

According to this rule, it is wrong to say “Who did you go to the movies with?”

Instead, the prescriptivists would have me say “With whom did you go to the movies?”

I’m saving that structure for when I’m making polite chat with the Queen on my next visit to the palace.

That’s not a sarcastic comment, just a fanciful one. I’m glad I know how to structure my sentences for different audiences. It is a powerful tool. It means I usually feel comfortable in whatever social circumstances I find myself in, and I can change my writing style according to purpose and audience.

That is why we should teach grammar in schools. We need to give our children a full repertoire of language so that they can make grammatical choices that will allow them to speak and write for a wide range of audiences.



Teacher Myth #1

January 7, 2011

I’m excited to start a new series of posts on the theme of teacher myths.  Every week I will be examining a teacher myth.

Teacher Myth 1:

A Teacher’s Job is to Teach, Not to Concern Themselves With the Social Dynamics of the Classroom

I remember a student I encountered during my second round of placements as a student teacher.  The boy (I will refer to him by the name Max), was a teacher favourite.  He was well-mannered, courteous to others, bright, hard-working, loved learning and a very good listener.  Max had a glaring problem that didn’t seem to worry his teacher one bit.  As soon as the bell would ring for recess he would go out with the other kids, make a bee line straight for the line-up area, and sit himself down on the line waiting for the inside bell to ring.  And there he waited all by himself, desperate to do away with playtime and stick to what he was good at – working in the classroom.

The first time I noticed Max striking a lonely figure at the line, I did nothing about it.  What could I do?  I reflected on it that night and decided that if it happened again the following day I would try to help him in whatever way I could.  Sure enough the very next recess saw Max sitting at the head of the line-up area, waiting for the bell.  I approached him and sat next to him, saying nothing to him so as not to make him anxious.  I just sat there until he gave me eye contact.  Instead of advising him to go out and play with friends and reminding him about obvious details like the quality of the weather and the importance of exercise, I opened the conversation by enquiring about his interests, hobbies, what his parents did for a living etc.  After a few minutes we were engaged in a wonderful conversation.  So good was our chat, that Max’s classmates started to become curious and soon enough there was a group of students at the line-up area listening and contributing to my conversation with Max.  You could tell how surprised they were to find out how interesting this loner was and how different he was to their past perceptions of him.

Here is a kid who gets good grades, great reports and glowing feedback from his teachers based on his academic performance, yet needs as much help in school as the struggling student sitting next to him.

Good teachers know that if you limit your job to the dissemination of facts alone, you are letting down your students.

It’s very important to improve the academic skills and convey facts and concepts to the class, but in my view it is of equal importance to ensure that your students are well looked after, are managing socially and have a positive sense of self.  If school was just about academic achievement it would have to be viewed as in institution designed for many to fail.  There are students in every class who will not find learning maths, science etc. easy at all.  They are not natural academic.  This is more than alright, because with the right attitude and a patient teacher they can progress beyond their wildest dreams.  School is not just about academics, it’s about finding a place in a group, contributing for and co-operating with others.  So much of ones youth is spent at school.  If there isn’t a great deal of time put in to helping the children gain a sense of self and a place where they harness their diverse skills and qualities, then sadly it is a huge opportunity lost.

That’s why I am not surprised that anti-bullying programs have proved ineffective.  You cannot deal with the problem through a peripheral program, you have to make the self-esteem and quality of life of students paramount.  Equal to their academic performance.  After all, your students in time will probably forget about the important dates during the Civil War and will have long ago lost a knowledge of single-celled organisms and The Fibonacci Sequence.  What they will however take with them is memories of positive and negative interactions with teachers and students during their school years.  Unfortunately, for way too many, those interactions have been particularly negative and destructive.

The best teachers (for which I can only aspire to be one day), are not content with academic performance within the classroom.  They want much more from their students.  They want their students to have an appreciation for themselves and others.  They want them to develop a selflessness and to harness their ability to find compassion for others and make constructive life choices.  If my students don’t become lawyers or doctors (not that there is anything wrong with that), it won’t worry me one bit.  I just want my students to grow up to live happy and constructive lives, to look out for others and to carve out a legacy for themselves.

If you have a child who is floundering socially or is being harassed at school, it is more than appropriate, in fact it’s advisable that you alert the teacher.  And if that teacher shows a lack of interest in the matter, then he/she isn’t doing their job properly.

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