Friday, February 09, 2007

Teaching For the Future

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~ Author Unknown

I clearly have editing and good writing on the brain at all times lately. Comes from doing edits on my latest story at The Wild Rose Press, I suppose (those editors are great, but MAN do they make you work hard).

I homeschool my daughter. She's in third grade right now, and yesterday she had a spelling test and a language test. In both, she had to write sentences -- One was a declarative sentence using the contraction for "are not" and one was a sentence using a spelling/vocabulary word, "demolish".

Both sentences she wrote were done in passive voice, and I almost told her how to make them active because that was the first thought to enter my mind... not that she'd contracted "are not" correctly or gotten her spelling word right.

The thing is, I know I write in passive voice all the time. I'm especially bad about it here on the blog because I don't feel like I need to analyze this particular writing sample for utter perfection. I try to be grammatically correct and avoid spelling errors, but beyond that? I work too hard the rest of the time on my writing.

Still... poor DD is starting to have creative writing for some of her assignments. Do you suppose if I teach her about all the big writing mistakes now (passive voice, show don't tell, etc) she'll be a whiz by the time she's a teen?

I wish someone had told me when I was younger. Maybe it would have kept me from the bad habits I have to break now.

What do you wish your teachers had taught you?


Allie Boniface said...

Yes, yes, yes. As a high school English teacher, I can tell you that you cannot start early enough in working on the language and grammar conventions. Of course, she's a reader, so that will help immensely--she will see how good language works by reading it. But young minds are like sponges, soaking up information so much more easily than when we become teems or adults.

What do I wish I'd known earlier? I wish this country required kids to learn a foreign language from the time they're in 1st grade. High school is much too late.

Judy said...

Allie... I agree with you. Early is never too late to start foreign language. Even after four years of Spanish in high school and two years of French in college, the language I remember is the Spanish I learned in the fourth grade. Kids have a natural affinity to pick up other languages. My two youngest are bilingual because we lived in Brazil while they were still young.

What I wished my teachers had taught me? Better work habits. School was (unfortunate but true) way too easy for me and it wasn't unusual to wait til the night before to write my papers. Of course, I had done my research as soon as I was assigned a topic. All I can figure is subconsciously I was working on it all the time. I think that's the reason, to this day, I write better with a deadline.

MaryF said...

I'm actually trying to teach my students that, too. I'm trying to teach them hooks, and that a story changes a character. I'm not going into passive voice yet because, well, they haven't grasped the concept of was/were/is and all that. 4th grade teachers are told that the kids are supposed to use words other than said. I'm saying, NO NO NO! I'm teaching them to use action tags.

My son, who is in HS, has an English teacher who will not accept a paper with a linking verb.