Introducing Studentisms

Higher Learning?

Learning. It’s something we all do, and I hope I never choose to stop. For teachers, learning is our livelihood, our calling. In one sense, we learn anew each day that we can inspire hope and dreams. In another, we learn continuously how much work there is to be done. Some students arrive in our classrooms woefully unprepared not only for what we are teaching, but for many other aspects of life. Do we teach our subject matter, or responsibility? At the end of the day, which is more important?

Our leaders have realised that the educational system is broken, but their attempts to fix it appear to have gone awry. This often leaves the teachers feeling bitter, overwhelmed, and helpless as they watch students raised to the almighty test try (or not try) year after year to reach “proficiency” and wonder how this will really prepare our kids for life after high school. Life isn’t about multiple choice “bubble tests.” We should certainly aspire for more than mere proficiency! Yet that is the accepted measure of our success as educators.

It means we steal moments of time from the proscribed course of study to teach life, which many of our students have experienced only via a screen. They stare blankly, wishing the “commercial” would end so they can get on with what they’re forced to do. Some are forced to wait for the rest of the students to catch up while others are forced to attend school at all. It’s an interesting mix.

However! This blog is not about that. This blog is about the comic relief frequently found from those same students. I call them studentisms: typos, wrong usage, dangling modifiers, malapropisms, and anything that gives amusement while grading papers. After having collected them for a time, I pulled a phrase from a persuasive essay. I no longer recall what the essay was trying to argue, but the phrase reads, “all of their innocent killings.” The clouds parted; the angels sang. I had a title for my collection! It has morphed into “Our Innocent Killings” because no one is perfect, and we all kill the language at some point. I do hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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