Yes, you saw right. I just titled my blog post with a hashtag. I truly don’t even know what a hashtag is. (Did I use the hashtag correctly by the way?) My teacher’s salary puts me on a budget where all I can reach for in my pocket is a dinosaur flip phone from 2005. Hey, it gets the job done. Prepaid, baby! I could text from it, but I don’t. I am darn proud of my flip phone, too. Go ahead and mock me like my students do when I pull it out to poke fun at myself. I welcome all naysayers! I will tell you what I don’t welcome, however. I refuse to welcome the growing trend of text message language that I see students and adults alike beginning to use on an everyday basis.
Call me old school. Call me grandpa. Call me whatever the heck you want, but this Language Arts teacher takes pride in the written language. There is something beautiful about the structure of a sentence that I cling to. Grammar is gone in today’s world. Capitalization? It is lost. Periods? Forget about them. Don’t even get me started on the correct use of a comma. Jarrod Dyson, outfielder for the Royals, I love you, man; but I have a slight issue with your, “Dats wat speed do” one liner. I am considering making my own T-shirt that says, “That is what not paying attention to your Language Arts teacher does.” Notice the capital letter, correct verb tense, and period at the end.
Ah, yes. Periods! Pardon me while I dedicate an entire paragraph to this one. When my students lose a point for that little dot that takes less than a millisecond to pencil in, they whine, “It’s just a period!” Just a period? Do you know what the world would be like without periods? Holy smokes, you wouldn’t take a breath! I read my class a paragraph one time without any periods. I sounded like an auctioneer on a caffeine high. I have gotten to the point where after one of my slightly ornery first hour students called it a dot, I told him I didn’t care what the heck he called it … JUST PUT IT THERE! (After hearing that story, my third hour class has taken to calling it a lampshade while sixth hour opted for a tilly-willy.)
I used to not fight this battle three or four years ago. I considered it a lost cause. Text message language flooded my classroom, and I gave up all hope. Even adults e-mails to me were beginning to fall into the no caps, no periods, no grammar trend. I realized most of these kids were seeing that example modeled before them, and do you know what goes through a kid’s mind when they see that? Hey, why not me? Why not take a quick minute to laugh at some real ADULT mistakes I have seen through the years …
1. Sports Illustrated printed a picture of a Seattle Seahawks fan, totally blue collar, holding up a sign that read, “Your horrible!” (Your horrible what? Grammar? Dude, it is called an apostrophe. Learn how to use it.)
2. A sign outside a business on Veteran’s Day read, “Thank you for severing our country!” (The only thing we’re severing is our ability to edit!)
3. A promotion for a new computer game read, “So fun, they won’t even know their learning!” (Apparently someone else doesn’t know their learning—or at least the correct version of they’re.)
4. A university hidden camera sign reads, “Smile! Your’re on campus camera!” (Hey, when you can’t decide which version to use, just combine them.)
5. A ginormous billboard promoting public schools reads, “15 best things about our pubic schools.” (What the heck kind of school are you running, buddy?)
And here I am, the old school language arts teacher, standing on the other side of the battlefield shaking my head. It was at that point I decided to draw my sword and fight back. I had been silent for too long. I painted my face blue, a la William Wallace from Braveheart, and gave my best barbarian shout from the depths of my soul.
The following is inspired by William Wallace’s (aka Mel Gibson’s) speech from the movie Braveheart, the first time he leads his men into battle. What? You don’t have a clue what I’m talking about? Alright, if you need to see it, view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr_OpFxCx-A.
Me: “Teachers of all … my name is Mr. (insert my name here).”
Defiant teacher: “Mr. (insert name here) is seven feet tall!”
Me: “Yes, I’ve heard. He teaches students by the hundreds … and if HE were here, he’d teach the students with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his smart technology.”
Me: “I AM Mr. (insert name here)! And I see a whole army of fellow teachers here in defiance of improper grammar. You’ve come to teach as grammar gurus, and grammar gurus you are. What would you do without grammar? Would you fight???”
Defiant teacher: “Against this group of text messaging students? No! We will let them be, and we will save ourselves hours of grading their mistakes.”
Me: “Aye … Fight, and you will have extra grading. Give up, and you’ll save yourself time … for at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance—JUST ONE CHANCE—to come back here and tell those students that they may text message all they want, but they’ll never take OUR GRAMMAR!!!!!!!!!!!”
Hey, let’s give this issue to the Bible right now! What would the Bible say about this ranting blog? I turn to Philippians 2: 14-15 where Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world …” Whoops. Better wrap this up.
So, what do you say? Are you in? Are you ready to fight this fight with me? I’ve been slashing back at that improper grammar for some time now, and I need some fellow wingmen (or women!) beside me. Believe it or not, I am slowly seeing results in my students! The art of a beautifully crafted sentence is being lost. Let’s show those kids what real grammar is. Let’s save our country from laziness! Are you with me?!?!?! Onward, GABRAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!