Some Things That a Writing Teacher Learns

Control freaks have lost control of their urge to control.

Today, cockroaches, as well as people, can be found in cities of more than 50,000, as well as in open cereal boxes.

Before they developed a vaccine, many people were stricken with polo.

If one looks at available statistics, it is obvious why birth control clinics should continue to provide for the uniformed.

It is a sign of social conscience to participate in activities to save hunger.

The answer can be staring right at you, but if you are in the eye of the problem, you will need someone with more perspective.

Very often, a person’s defiance to die and survival to live is unbelievable.

Even when a man and a woman talk openly, there is often a diaphragm between them. A barrier of mistrust.

In order to achieve consistent success, a runner must learn to paste himself.

It is seldom possible for a man and a woman to maintain a plutonic relationship.

In some third-world nations, many men greatly desire to marry plumb women.

It is better to be yourself than to act like a pre-Madonna.

5 thoughts on “Some Things That a Writing Teacher Learns

  1. I appreciate this post because I’m sure students who struggle in writing classes would be glad to know how teachers mock them.

    • This isn’t mocking. Any decent teacher has created a classroom where these types of comments are shared and chuckled over. I’ve shared my own little mess ups with my students. We all make them. It all depends if you create an environment where writing is a joy or one where writing is a chore.

    • I suppose that this post could be read as a snide commentary on my students’ efforts. But I didn’t actually intend it that way. I simply find these particular errors to be genuinely funny.

      I would feel that the issue of sensitivity would be more applicable if these were ESL or remedial students or students disadvantaged in some comparable way. But I don’t believe that any of these students was particularly “struggling.” I think, instead, that the errors resulted more from simple carelessness, some lapse in concentration, or some confusion about word meanings or usage that may have even been just momentary.

      I have collected these errors over two-plus decades of teaching writing courses. I thought for a long time that the “pre-Madonna” error was quite singular, but then I came across it in a similar list that was posted somewhere else. I have often wished that it had been an intentional error.

      Lastly, I am willing to add an error that I myself committed. When I was a graduate student, I once identified the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti as Lawrence Serengeti, not just once but repeatedly throughout a paper treating several San Francisco-area Beat poets. I had read most of his work, and I certainly knew what his name was. Still, I am less puzzled now by how or why I made the error than why I failed to catch it before I submitted the paper. I recall that the professor asked in the margin of the first page of the paper if I were making some sort of a joke. .But by the end of the paper, he had lost his sense of humor about it. He deducted an entire letter grade simply for the annoyance–and when he saw me in the hallway, he suggested that the next time I should proofread my paper when I was certain that I was completely sober..At the time, it was a fair observation but not one, unfortunately, that actually explained why I had not caught the error.

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