When The Teacher Is The Antagonist

, , , , | Learning | November 30, 2018

Since I was in high school, I’ve made some money on the side by helping my neighbors’ children — and later, children of their relatives and acquaintances, as well — with their homework. This mostly consisted of reading over written assignments for spelling and grammar mistakes, since most of them had Portuguese rather than English as their first language.

Recently, one of the girls I tutor started high school with a teacher who apparently didn’t expect his students to have much of a vocabulary, because she was constantly bringing her papers back with comments from him saying that they “didn’t sound like her own words.” I want to emphasize that I didn’t write the papers for her, and while I’ve always loved learning rare or unusual words and can give plenty of synonyms off the top of my head, the ones she was told to change seemed pretty basic to me — “protagonist” instead of “main character,” and such.

The cherry on top was an instance where one of the sections she was told to edit was a quote from a source she was required to have in her paper! I don’t recall the subject matter, but the sources were from the 1800s, so of course their language was a bit more flowery than how people speak today. We ended up changing it to the shortest quote we could find in the source material, which apparently satisfied him. You can bet there was plenty of disbelieving laughter from both of us at the irony of a teacher having his students dumb their work down!

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