Saturday, June 06, 2009

Teaching Journal

Day 159, Friday, June 5

Today I will write about my love for grammar rules. 999 people out of 1,000 (including my long-suffering students) would probably gag at the mention of grammar rules, but I honestly love them. I guess it’s because I love words. They're just small collections of letters on a page, just spoken groups of sounds, but words carry enormous power. In fact, words, to me, are close to the center of power in the universe -- because they are born from thoughts, and no other force is as mighty as a thought. Words are more explosive, more creative, than the strongest winds and waves. Words, not weapons, cause wars, and words make true love way better than bodies do. Grammar rules being the guidelines for how to employ these potent forces called words, it’s logical that I would enjoy investigating and understanding them. People who love engines love to know how they work, and I feel the same about words. Sit me down with a glass of wine, some pretzels, and a grammar book, and I’ll be content. Tell me how you use commas with participles and gerunds in your writing, and I’ll sit back and listen with pleasure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings Mr. Salsich,

You may not remember me, but I was one of your students back in the mid-1990's. You taught me English and geography over the course of several years and I spent many a trip in the school van with you on the way to speech team competitions. I just stumbled upon your blog and read a few of the entries in your teaching journal.

I just wanted to let you know that you helped to instill in me a love for grammar just as you describe above - perhaps it is contagious. I, too, love to discuss and debate the proper use of words and punctuation. Sometimes, I can do this too often, especially with my wife! I've since graduated from Warriner's to the MLA manual, which is not as fun (but it's necessary for work). One of my favorites on writing in general is Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, by Joseph Williams. I still read it and smile from time to time.

I also wanted to thank you for the learning environment that you carefully created. Your tea, crackers, and teaching style all made for a feeling of equality in the classroom. For the first time, I felt as if we were all scholars, learning alongside one another, rather than merely being an audience. It foreshadowed the feeling I now get from working alongside professors as a graduate student and has contributed to my love of learning. I doubt that I will ever stray far from the halls of academia.

Lastly, please don't ever think that all students enjoy the classes of the younger, "more vibrant" teachers. For some of us students, years of teaching experience really do make a difference. Sometimes, we need a mentor, not just someone who wants to be our friend.

Please keep doing what you do so well.

Best wishes always,
Jim McGee