I am going to start a category called “Pet Peeves” and inaugurate it with this rant about inept teachers. My children all now attend public school here in The Zone. I have attended town hall meetings and countless presentations listening to high-level teachers and administrators mangle the English language. They make my ears bleed.
Today, I undertook the daunting task of proofreading two sets of questions for this weekend’s high school Scholar Bowl (academic team) practice matches, which I am scheduled to moderate. For each set of questions, I wrote a very long, detailed email to the Coordinator of Academic Competitions. I filled each message with dozens of picayune corrections about subject-predicate agreement, syntax, spelling, grammar, punctuation, you-name-it. Some of these errors occur repeatedly: I find them in every middle school and high school problem set.
Hello? Can you please learn from your mistakes? I understand foreign words and phrases are challenging for people with no background or ear for language, but I’m talking about basic English here. Here are some examples of repeat offenses:
- Which one or ones of the following contain … [singular subject requires singular verb]
- Match the each of the following authors to their work. [singular subject requires singular pronoun]
- Place XYZ in order of predomination. [Stop making up words and use a dictionary, dammit!]
- Misspelling proper names like Frederick Loewe (remember the extra “e”) and Fredric Remington (no “k” in the old boy’s name)
One particular question that blew my mind involved listing the election years between 1985 and 2002. My answer key said 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001. WTF? You were alive then, AND you probably voted, AND you should proofread and vet your own damn work. The Competitions Coordinator is very sweet, but even as an admitted math-science girl, she makes tons of mistakes on those questions, too. Now, I end up Googling almost every question to double-check facts. I should introduce the CC to Grammarly; I love its Facebook page.
As for those math questions … too bad there isn’t a way to plug in those higher-level math questions and get the answer to those.
P.S. Continuing with the school theme: in the last five days of school, Wizard skipped school twice and overslept three times. Way to not graduate, kid.