31 October 2012

teaching, schmeaching

Whenever I assign persuasive essays, I send my students a List of Banned Topics. Currently on that list: creation vs. evolution, homeschooling vs. public school, gun control, and abortion. (These are the first topics a typical homeschooled student pulls out of his hat, and after a while I got tired of reading the same rehashed arguments.)

Next year I'm adding cell phone usage and video games. If I have to read one more essay about the dangers of texting . . .

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Do you think it would work to send all my students a blinking neon reminder about Comma Splices, Proper Use of Apostrophes/Semicolons/Colons, and Matching Your Pronoun to Your Antecedent?

Or maybe if The Oatmeal would just make a complete set of grammar posters.

Also under serious consideration: a mass email concerning The Alot. "Alot more dangerous . . . baby less dangerous."

(I'm getting a little stabby about grammar. Can you tell?)

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In my high school composition class, I ask the kids to write a brief "introduction essay" of sorts, and one of the things I request is that they tell me about their favorite books. Being homeschoolers, you can always bet on The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Redwall. Then the more classically inclined will mention Dickens or Lewis, the typical teen girl will mention some bubblegum series I've never heard of, and every year there is a popular newcomer: last year it was The Hunger Games, this year it was Heroes of Olympus.

These essays are always amusing and they make me feel like I'm on top of young adult literary trends.

What new books have you been reading?

5 comments:

  1. Do you ever feel just a little suicidal when finding high school students forgetting extremely obvious points of grammar? Like capitalization, and full sentences. Or subject-verb agreement.

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    1. Worse than that, I think, is that they never knew those points at all.

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  2. Threaten that for every grammar infraction, they have to add a paragraph to a persuasive essay defending socialism.

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  3. So if those topics are the worst of the lot for persuasive essays...which have been the best? I'm casting my mind back to high school and remember nothing beyond the boys who were marked down for arguing between boxers and briefs, then introducing boxer-briefs at the last moment.

    I’ve been reading through a book of “Selected Literary Essays” by Lewis, and realizing how little I know about accentual metre, Il Filostrato, and English poetic traditions. Sometimes it gets a bit too humbling, and I have to turn to my pile of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries…

    ...ohhh, wait, you said *new* books. Hmm. My brother lent me The Hunger Games, but that's about as new as it gets (annnd I haven't started them yet anyway).

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    1. WIMSEY!

      Well, there was one on waffles versus pancakes that I found amusing ...

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