I was taught to be observant, and to take note of things of interest. I recall family conversations centering around misplaced modifiers (now that I teach them, I know what they are called)–those intriguing bits of sentences that make you tip your head to one side and look puzzled, if you pay attention. They have always amused me. Now, I wish I could draw the wealth of fun word pictures unknowingly provided me by perfectly serious students.
The first studentism I collected was during my student teaching. I planned and taught a unit, all on my own, to a class of 8th grade honors English students. It taught me many things, not the least of which that Anne Frank, with all due respect, had a dairy. It is a simple typo that I happened to see far too many times as I graded that first set of essays. But the crowning glory was when I learned that “In the dairy of Anne Frank, Anne and her family lived for two years in the attic of her father’s factory, which was behind a bookshelf.” (I’m afraid I can’t cite any of my studentisms; I didn’t keep any attributing information to protect the innocent.) It left me wondering: how big was that infamous bookshelf?
That was the first time I realized that a teacher really ought to know how to draw. It also made it difficult to take any of the essays on a very poignant, serious subject seriously at all.
As mentioned previously, I have collected an alarmingly large number of these little gems in the years since. I do hope you enjoy them as I do. They certainly make grading hundreds of essays more palatable.