Friday, March 30, 2007

Strict English Teacher Awarded $1.4 million

$1.4 million for teacher strict with grades - Education -

Ms. Payne was awarded this amount after the jury decided that the school administration had told her she had to raise the grades of the students she gave Ds and Fs to in her English class, and when she didn't, she was given demeaning assignments, and then fired. In retaliation, said the jurors.

TAKE HOME POINT #1: I love juries. We the people! I love what juries do ... and every lawyer fears one. One of the first things they teach you in the legal field is, "any jury can do what any jury can do."

I've seen cases (I'm sure you have too) where they award $1 for part of it, and then hundreds of thousands in the other part, to make a point.

TAKE HOME POINT #2: I'm an English major. I love the English language, and revere the written word. In the past 10 years, I have not seen a published book that didn't have a typo in it. For those of you who wonder why this would bother me, it's because during the decades before that, I never saw a published book WITH a typo in it. We just weren't that sloppy.

I have seen very few pieces of writing that didn't have gross grammatical errors - including national magazine articles, and legal pleadings, business letters, and Internet articles. Typos - not such a big deal on the Internet, but when someone's writing an article and can't make the verb agree with the noun, doesn't know the difference between "effect" and "affect" (or even worse, how to get around it witb another phrase -- that's possible too, you know) ...

Maybe we should be grateful for "the house of Payne."

TAKE HOME POINT #3: The people who ask our best from us. I don't know the "truth" in this legal case, we only know the verdict. However, if this teacher was, as I hope she was, fair but demanding .... don't you remember those teachers, mentors, and coaches who held up to you "the best you"? Who respected their SUBJECT -- whether they were teaching English or character or physics or gymnastics -- and respected YOU -- and combined the two by demanding that you learn to dot those i(s) and cross those t(s).

The bastardization of the English language is one of the tragedies of our times. Utilization of nominalized verbs, senseless jargon, teens who write to me (as Attract Your Ideal Mate on "i no hes no good. he sur has my intrest tho" and want to know why the guy won't pay attention to them ... youngsters who leave our school systems illiterate in TWO languages ...

If it's one law that always holds up, it's that you have to learn the rules before you can break them, and no one is learning the "rules" of the English language any more.

What's even scarier is that you don't know that you don't know. I've saved in my files, the Internet article of a person purporting to write articles for people, and create their websites, and it has several blatant grammatical erros, and a couple of typos in it.

The sad thing is that she's probably getting a lot of business!

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD ... it brought order out of chaos. Being able to "name" something is an incredible act. If you've watched a baby develop language, you know how much less frustrated they are when they can TELL you what they want, instead of just crying or having a tantrum.

One of the major thrusts of emotional intelligence is to be able to label your emotions, and to express the feelings in words -- and we aren't born knowing that any more than we know that red thing over there is an "apple."


And wherever you are Dr. Duda and Dr. Monihan (my two very strict Latin teachers), Mrs. Lightner (my very strict piano teacher), Ray Garrett, Jr. and Gertrude Hale (my two very strict character teachers). . . you were right. One day I did appreciate it!

And p.s. If you contract my coaching services, you can expect that I will demand the best of you, and the results can be quite amazing!

FREE mini-readings available by email. Send me your concern, question, issue, ruminations and I'll give you a free mini-reading.

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