Ever since my kids hit public school, I go through this every single Fall — “this” being the discovery that their English teachers are often border-line illiterate. I know that there are wonderful, literate English teachers out there (Mike McDaniel springs instantly to mind), but my children haven’t been lucky enough to get one. Without exception, the materials that the teachers send home are rife with grammatical errors. I admit I’m a bit more punctilious than most when it comes to things such as split infinitives, but these are people — no, not people, but English teachers for Gawd’s sake — who can’t even figure out subject/verb or subject/pronoun agreement.
(I realize that there are invariably mistakes in my blog posts but, without exception, these mistakes are typos because I tend to slam these things out while in the midst of several other tasks. The teachers, on the other hand, recycle these hand-outs year after year, so one would think that they’d eventually get them right.)
I just printed an assignment sheet for my high school freshman and it made me extraordinarily grumpy. For starters, it’s poorly formatted, which bugs the word processor in me. That’s just cosmetic, though. I can even forgive the fact that the teacher pompously refers to himself in the third person. Bookworm understands how that goes. But the kicker is that it’s unintelligible. The document has no organizing principle, it’s dotted with sentence fragments, and it’s impossible to understand what point the teacher is making. It’s also impossible to understand what he’s asking from the students.
My children know I’m always willing to help them with English and history. What I will not do for them, though, is decipher an accredited teacher’s marginally-literate maundering.
(Incidentally, this goes a long way to explaining the problem — English teachers are more interested in smut than in the English language.)