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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Eloquence in the Raw

Posted by my friend Sally Dayton, a grammar school teacher in Chicago, to her Facebook page:
"Dear Mrs. Dayton, You say that I do a lot of talking and I know you are true. Many people tell me that. But you are more confident in your sayings. I just want to know do you still like me in a way of a student? You are my teacher and I should let you be. I act like I'm the boss but I'm not. If you read this thank you! Because it's no way for me to act like this."

I love it. This is a child who the Irish might say has kissed the Blarney Stone of Eloquence (pictured here, and definitely one terrifying stone to kiss, in my experience), but didn't have the basic groundwork to be rewarded for the gift. The child has insight and maybe a little ADD. The apology feels sincere, and the admiration for the teacher is apparent. But the grammar--now there is a place to do some work. This is the child for whom a good relationship with a teacher could make a difference. I was recently at a workshop on how to use plain language in educational materials for adults, and learned that less than a third of adult Americans are proficient readers, and 40% are non-fluent readers or illiterate. Which does not mean they are unintelligent. Not at all. The opportunity to fix this painlessly for adults has passed. Not so with this child. Support those who teach in the grammar school years--it is exhausting work that is not rewarded with power, glory, or very much money. It is important work that changes lives, communities, and nations.

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