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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Spell it like it is | spiked

Spell it like it is | spiked by Frank Furedi, author of Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004), is a mix of sense and nonsense in my view. First the nonsense:

In essence, variant spelling is a true companion to the idea of variant truths. Contemporary cultural life has become estranged from the idea of Truth with a capital T. In academia, social scientists never tire of informing students that there are no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers. Instead of the truth, people are exhorted to accept different perspectives as representing many truths.

The demotion of the status of truth calls into question the purpose of gaining knowledge. Celebrating variant truths, like variant spellings, is presented as a pluralistic gesture of tolerance. In fact it represents a reluctance to take education and its ideas seriously. And not surprisingly, those who do not take ideas seriously are also not very worried about how they are spelled.

Only if you like grinding axes, Frank! Talk about reading things into stuff… The question of how best to deal with errors, spelling or otherwise, has been around long before those deep cultural matters of postmodernism and relativity that so vex cultural conservatives. There are areas where pluralism is extremely appropriate, in my view — religion not least. Religious tolerance, much to be desired in the modern world, depends on such pluralism, as it not such a long step from rejecting that to deciding “You’re right and I’m wrong, so I’m afraid I have to kill you…”

But spelling?

Yes, I am in favour of people being able to spell English words correctly; always have been. But I try not to confuse issues in the manner of Frank Furedi. I do not see spelling errors as evidence of cultural rot. I do see them as inconveniences for writers and readers, and therefore to be dealt with. So I can sympathise with Frank Furedi when he complains that this is not good enough:

My principal objection to ‘variant spelling’ is that it reinforces the pernicious idea that children and young people today cannot be expected to meet the difficult challenge of learning how to use language correctly. For some time now, influential educators have asked whether it is desirable to teach children correct spelling. Some pedagogues argue that teaching spelling is a waste of time that serves no positive purpose. Others claim that an insistence in the classroom on spelling everything correctly frustrates those who suffer from learning disabilities and dyslexia.

I suspect he has never seriously considered the issues of learning disabilities and dyslexia. I have, and am perfectly able to reconcile thinking teaching spelling is far from a waste of time with adjusting my practice when dealing with those with learning difficulties.

Sorry, but Furedi really is a bit of a windbag on this matter.

Yes, you can learn about spelling on this site: I’m a poor speller. Can you help?

 

Top 100 Language Blogs – Lexiophiles

I can’t say I was displeased when I received an email pointing to Top 100 Language Blogs – Lexiophiles because English/ESL has been listed there — at #75. I strongly recommend your browsing the list as some very interesting blogs may be found there.

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Is zero singular or plural? For example, if no-one answers this, will I get no reply or no replies?

If that puzzles you, you will see on funtrivia.com that you get sent here! 🙂 Thanks to Brian in Canada — who found we had the answer

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2008 in site news

 

A Twist In My Story: He Made A Difference

I happened on this while randomly surfing through BlogExplosion. It’s not a total waste of time, you know, as every now and again something of real interest comes along — a whole blog, or a particular post. I mentioned BlogExplosion in Around 500 Education blogs… last year; sadly, since then, the site has had its ups and downs, and this blog is no longer listed there, though two of my personal blogs are.

To the point though. A Twist In My Story: He Made A Difference comes from a 14-years-old named Ben in Malaysia. It’s about his new English teacher.

He at times can feel really low when entering my class because of the response we give him. I understand how it feels but sometimes I too get carried away talking and forget myself. Even though we give him all this crap, he continues teaching us with a whole new style which I find very creative and innovative. And I can proudly say that I have learn new things from him.

His lessons are never boring and doesn’t use the old textbook teaching style which intrigues me greatly. Always teaching with a bang and no two lessons are the same. He teaches us how to speak up, to be attentive, to be considerate, to write a Thesis statement, to respect and believes strongly that respect is earned not given. By not scolding us but teaching us, he wins hearts of students that which even money cannot buy. This is priceless.

Through the past month, I have changed my view on a number of things by his teachings. I have learned that to judge people based on first glance is wrong. Most people judge others in a matter of seconds and though first impressions matter, take time to know more about the person your judging. Even then, who are you to judge them.

I think this too is priceless. 🙂 I really hope his teacher has been able to read it…

Nice one, Ben.

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2008 in blogs, for teachers, Teachers Who Change Lives

 

101 Ways to Cope with Teaching Stress | Smart Teaching

Here’s one for the teachers. It arrived via an email from one of the people involved with the US site on which it appears.

101 Ways to Cope with Teaching Stress | Smart Teaching

  • Stop smoking: That little buzz you get from a cigarette may calm you down temporarily, but the nicotine that’s blowing into your system will actually make you jumpy and over alert. In the long run, that’s not good news for your stress levels.
  • Minimize your caffeine: Teachers may thrive on coffee breaks, but consider cutting back to just a couple of cups a day. Even better would be to substitute at least one cup of coffee or soda for green tea. The tea can boost your immune system and contains less caffeine than coffee.
  • Eat breakfast: Eating a good breakfast not only boosts your metabolism, it also keeps you focused so that you’re more productive throughout the entire day.
  • Snack right: It’s easy to grab whatever snacks are in the vending machines or school cafeteria, but it’s also important to eat right while you’re at school. Physically, a diet of fatty, greasy foods will make you feel weighted down, bloated and tired, while your emotional state may be at risk too if you feel guilty about wrecking your diet.
  • Set realistic goals: As a teacher, it’s easy to get caught up in saving your at-risk students from failure or sponsoring every club each semester. Set realistic goals for yourself and you’ll be able to find a less stressful balance.
  • There’s your first five, and I’m afraid I passed only one. I won’t say which one. 😉 Too late for me now, but maybe some of you can profit from the advice.

    What’s more, a lot of it could be called “101 ways to cope with HSC stress” — so even students may care to look.