Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The chaos IS the education



     All right class, settle down. Are you glad to be back? I’m sure glad to be here — at this point, I‘m glad to be anywhere. I bet your parents are really, really glad you’re here, and not pinballing off the walls at home.
     How was your week off? Fun? Good. We’re going to have more fun right now. Today we’re going to diagram a sentence. Just three words.
      [Walks to chalkboard. Squeaking chalk.] 
     “YOU’RE NOT LISTENING.”
     Can anyone tell me who said this? C’mon, you’re not reading your newspapers. What? Yes Shirley? Sigh. Newspapers? Well, they’re like web sites, only printed on paper, wrapped in plastic and thrown at your house in the mornings. Don’t your parents get one? Very big in their day.
     [Taps board with chalk.]
     Anyone know who said that? Yes Claire? That’s right. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, chewing out the Chicago Teacher’s Union in that distinctive my-way-or-the-highway manner that wins her so many friends and allies.
     Though in this case ... it worked, kinda, for the moment.
     Back to the sentence. Who can find the verb? Lester? “Listening?” No, you fell into my trap. While “listen” is indeed a verb, here it is what is known as a gerund — a verb with “ing” at the end that acts as a noun. In this sentence “listening” means “in a state of compliance.”
     Anybody? You’d think your schooling hasn’t been a chaotic jumble for, well, a long time. How are you going to thrive in the dystopian hellscape of rising totalitarianism played out against social collapse and global warming if you don’t know good grammar?
     Don’t answer that.
     The verb in the sentence is tucked within the first word, “you’re,” which of course is a contraction of “you” and “are.” “Are” is a verb, here acting as the second person plural form of “to be.” Here the mayor is telling the teachers that by not holding class in person, because COVID protocols are still the disordered hash they were a year ago, they are failing to heed her orders.

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3 comments:

  1. Like the photo. Reminds me of Thoreau's travails as a school master -- he refused to beat the subject matter into his students, to the great disapprobation of his esteemed colleagues.

    john

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is the instructor Sister Mary Elephant?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why do the authorities keep saying that schools are the safest place for children?
    It defies logic.
    Where is the Director of Public Health in all of this?

    ReplyDelete

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