Archive for the ‘education’ category

Principal’s Bad Grammar Angers Parents (link)

October 30, 2010

Principal’s Bad Grammar Angers Parents (link)

Oh, my.

This article is a great demonstration of Aristotle’s concept of ethos; here we have a middle school principal who sends out an email with numerous typos, punctuation errors, grammar errors, and mixed or inappropriate metaphors.  While many of us would just read through an email like this from a friend and think nothing of it, someone who is in a position of authority over children’s education really needs to be a grammatically correct, if not inspired, writer.

This is the same reason so many people made fun of George W. Bush; there’s a longstanding tradition of presidents being solid, if not great, communicators.  Sure, these days they all have their speeches written by lackeys–I mean speechwriters–but Bush just could not string a grammatically or intellectually coherent thought together when speaking extemporaneously. Does that make him a bad president? No. A pad person? Of course not.  But when an audience has particular expectations of a person, and that person fails those expectations, his or her credibility is shot.  This is ethos: a person’s character or reputation.

If I had a nickel for every time a person said “oh! I better watch my grammar!” when they found out what I do, well, I’d have a lot of nickels.  They assume that I am a certain kind of person–an English professor turned writer has a certain reputation, right? I always reply with, “I don’t grade unless I’m paid,” but the fact is, in casual interactions I don’t care how you speak or write or communicate, as long as I can understand you.  In fact, my English is sadly lacking in conversation because it’s informal.  That’s how it should be. But if you’re being paid (and in NY, where this principal is located, the pay is astonishingly high) to supervise other teachers and educate students, you bet your bippy I’m going to judge your grammar.