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Junior English Major Tutoring Philly Middle Schooler Has No Idea What Basic Grammar Terms Mean


Photo by PDPics / CC0 

Cole Medan, an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing (C '19), thought teaching would be perfect for him. He imagined himself becoming a John Keating of sorts, prompting his students to stand on desks and vandalize books in his honor. At the very least, he sought to impress the middle schoolers with his ability to ruthlessly cut all "to be" verbs from any sentence and make a really flowery introduction. 

With modest expectations like these, what could go amiss? 

Cole arrived to the classroom this afternoon to meet with Jane, ready to mold a young mind. Jane was tired from her typical day as a 7th grader, one that barbarically starts at 7am and lasts straight until 3:30 and repeats like this from Monday to Friday. She pulled out that day's grammar worksheet ready "to just get this over with so that [she] can watch Survivor with [her] parents later." 

Cole glanced down at the so-called "worksheet" which asked students to differentiate between independent, subordinate, relative, and noun clauses. 

Cole, unwilling to admit that these words meant nothing to him, decided to improvise and keep his lesson fresh. 

"Listen, Jane. I'm going to tell it to like it is. This does not matter. Prescriptive grammar is oppressive anyways, you can tell your teacher that tomorrow. For now, flip the paper over, yep, right there where all that blank space is. Great. Now, just start by writing what you think purple would smell like."