Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wicked English Teacher Wednesday--May 2012

Hi folks, it's time once again for Wicked English Teacher Wednesday, the series where we proofread the Internet and rant about it together. Okay...I rant about it. You may if you wish. In fact I'd appreciate knowing that I'm not ranting all by myself. But truthfully, I can't make you rant if you don't want to. Feel free to read without ranting if that's what you really want. On the other hand, if these things don't make you want to rant, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore. Just sayin'.

First though, let me tell you why teachers become wicked. We don't start out that way. We come into our first classrooms all energetic and idealistic ready to save the world from ignorance. We end up wicked. What happens in the middle? This:

Mrs. Meents passes out a detailed list of instructions explaining exactly how the project should be done. It begins with the words, "You will be preparing a five-minute oral presentation." Within 30 seconds, Alfred raises his hand and asks, "How many pages does it have to be?"  Well, it's not a written report; it's an oral report. "Oh. How long does it have to be?" Do you see the first sentence on the paper where it says five minutes?  "Oh. What happens if it's not five minutes?" At about this time, Matilda calls out without raising her hand, "How many pages does it have to be?"

On another day, in exasperation, to keep from losing her cool, Mrs. Meents asks ironically, "Why must teenagers behave in such an adolescent manner?" Without missing a beat, Herman answers, "Well, that's why they call us adolescents." Yes, Herman. Yes it is.

On yet another day, the discussion has turned to chewing gum -- back in the "old days" Tabitha asks, "Is it true that if you were chewing gum, teachers used to make you spit it out in their hand?"

"No way!" Albemarle jumps in. "I'd chew gum just so I could spit it in the teacher's hand...not you, Mrs. Meents!" No, Albemarle, I'm sure you don't mean me.

Would you please open your books to page 57? Winthrop, please pick your head up off of your desk and open your book to page 57. Thank you. Hildegard, put your novel down. I'm glad you love to read, but right now you need to open your textbook to page 57. Bartholomew! Don't write on page 57, just open your book! Thank you. Daphne? Page 57. No...57. Madeline, that's your math book. You need your language...that's right. Good. Winthrop, pick your head up. Hildegard, put the novel in your backpack, not on your lap. Thank you. Now who would like to read the first paragraph? Marvin? Thank you. Page 57. 57. Yes, 57.

And then the teacher gets very old and wicked and has to pause to rant about the abominable spelling, grammar, and punctuation found on the Internet so that her head doesn't explode.

Whew! But none of that is what I came here to talk about today. Today, I want to look at bloggers and blogging experts, those people who make a living (or try to) off the Internet. I especially want to look at those people who try to tell the rest of us how to improve our blogs. There are some great sites out there that do just that, sites I've used to really improve my own blog. There are also some sites written by people who probably have good information and ideas but who are failing at the communication game.

If you want to be taken seriously as an "expert" in the field of communication, you've got to get the mechanics right. There are many, many literate people out there who want advice on setting up and growing their blogs, but are not going to take advice from people who come across as ignorant because of their writing ability, or lack of it.

Notice that word in the previous paragraph, advice. Advice is a noun, a thing. You give advice. Don't confuse it with the verb advise. When you give people advice, you advise them. If you don't know the difference, maybe you're not in a position to advise people about their writing.

Yet recently I read a post by a self-proclaimed "perfectionist"who advices us to check out a web "sight." Oh, yes, that's what he said. Web sight. You see what's wrong there, right? You see a sight. A site is a location. A web site is a location on the World Wide Web. Also, to avoid plagiarism, be sure to cite the sites you sight. You're welcome.

Just one more rant for today. Another blogger talked about making due with what you have. You don't make due. You do make do.

Well, it's getting late, so we'll have to cut this rant short and make do with what we have.

What have you seen lately that made you want to rant? Go ahead and rant with me. Take  my advice; you'll feel better for it.