Why I Am Not a Member of the Grammar Police

People regularly assume that I am out to get them. See, they find out that I’m an English teacher. And the most common response is “Uh-oh! I better watch what I say!”

My various social media feeds regularly feature memes like this:

Or photos like this:

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Assault and Entitlement: The Dispossessed, Chapter 7

This is in response to an ongoing (every other week) livestream in which a friend and I are discussing Ursula LeGuin’s classic novel, The Dispossessed. It’s a work of science fiction set in a distant star system, on the planet Urras and its moon, Anarres. Generations ago, a group of political dissidents on Urras were offered the opportunity to become settlers on Annares and to run their society as they saw fit, in exchange for mining a valuable ore that had limited availability on the planet but was apparently plentiful on the otherwise nearly-barren moon.

The protagonist is Shevek, an Anarresti physicist who travels to Urras. He is simultaneously curious and also bewildered at the vast differences between the society in which he was raised and the one he is visiting. His own society aims to be stateless, classless, and egalitarian, while Urras is comprised of nation-states with rigid class and gender structure. Things escalate to full-out sexual assault in chapter 7, which was part of the discussion in the livestream. However, I woke up at two in the morning with further thoughts, which you can find behind the cut.

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Identity

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One of the books I read last year was Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender. An interesting point the author makes is that we often think that our biology influences what we do, and while that isn’t untrue, it’s just as true that what we do also shapes our biology.

Watching The Rise of Skywalker brought this to mind again. I didn’t like the director’s choice to return to the “Chosen One” trope after the saga finally seemed to be moving away from it in The Last Jedi. But what I did like was the concept that we choose who we become, but we are also responsible for following through on that choice with our actions.

So many of my students, like most of the people I know, get very defensive when they are told that something that they said or did is bigoted, or hurtful, or sometimes just incorrect. And that’s because it can feel like a condemnation, not of the action, but of the person. Continue reading

I Am Not a Writer Who Teaches

If we as teachers do not read and write in our own “real” lives, how can we expect our students to value reading and writing as anything more than school work?Kathleen Sokolowski

The current consensus among teachers of writing seems to be that it is necessary to be a writer, to write regularly, in order to be a good writing teacher.

One problem with this, for me, is that I really, really, really don’t like writing, at least not in the creative sense. I do not have the remotest urge to keep a diary, or a journal, or a notebook. I have notebooks. And I do write things down. Mostly they’re lists of things I need to remember to do. Lesson plans. Songs to add to my karaoke rotation. Movies to watch. Groceries to purchase.

Many writers describe the process of writing as a form of thinking.

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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

Normally, by about mid-July I start feeling excited about the upcoming school year. However, this year I spent mid to late July studying Google Suite in preparation to teach remotely. Except then we found out we wouldn’t be teaching remotely. Except we would be teaching some of our students remotely. At the same time that we were teaching the rest of the class in person.

This summer has been one frustrating complication after another. Other countries that had tighter restrictions saw their numbers of new cases sharply decline. However, at both of my summer jobs, while I was required to wear a mask, most of our customers did not. And surprise, surprise, this was the result:

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WHY I WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN VIOLENT PROTEST

I went for a long run this morning. While I was stopped for a water break, someone came up to me and asked if I’d lost a house key. I told her it wasn’t mine, thanked her for the attempt, and that was it.

She didn’t seem concerned or worried about approaching me. Why would she? I am pretty much the epitome of a Nice White Lady. I’m a schoolteacher. I have long, mousy-brown hair that I often pull into a bun. I wear glasses. The only way I could personally appear to be less threatening is if I was small. (I’m just a smidge over six feet.)

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What Does It Mean to Be Special?

Did ‘Fox and Friends’ Call Fred Rogers an ‘Evil, Evil Man’?

Okay, so first of all, yes, they did, and yes, it’s so incredibly wrong and horrid and shameful. Let’s get THAT out of the way first.

However, in addition, I have a fair number of thoughts on the opposing mindsets shown. Buckle up, friends; I have some general idea of where I’m headed but I’m not sure how I’m getting there, so this may be a long, meandering ride.

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