Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just When You Thought There Was Nothing Else to Say...

(working title: More on The Joy of Diagramming)

Wednesday's post is supposed to be dedicated to food -- eating it, cooking it, avoiding it, whatever. But like every good freelance writer worth her salt would say, "Um, I need a slight deadline extension."

Here's why: We have some whistle-blowing to do.

My friend Jeanie, who has always and forever made her living by writing, sent me a well-written e-mail in response to the Sister Bernadette post from yesterday. Part of it reads: "I've never diagrammed a sentence in my life. Ever. I had the misfortune of being raised in 1970s Atlanta school systems when they experimented with 'New English' instruction. In this best-forgotten education experiment, the Fulton County School System switched over to an 'enlightened' grammar instruction method that conveniently ditched grammar. We didn't use words like 'adjectives' and 'adverbs,' as they were passé. Instead we used terms like 'modifiers.' And we didn't diagram. It's a miracle I learned to write at all. But I still can't identify all the parts of speech, even if you threaten to torture me."

The torture, I think, would best be found in NOT experiencing The Joy of Diagramming. Some of my best memories of Marietta Jr. High were made at the chalkboard in my English class. So how can it be that only a few years later and one county away on the Georgia map, I happily went about the business of diagramming as if it were an Olympic event? Jeanie, on the other hand, never had a chance.

Dear readers, this child was left behind.

Even sadder is the realization that she wasn't alone. When my husband read yesterday's post, he acted as if he were reading Arabic. He blinked a lot, then said, "I don't know what you're talking about." Clearly, he didn't experience The Joy of Diagramming, either.

Seems to me that a lot of grammar teachers from the 1970s should come forward and explain themselves. Mrs. Page with her stylish haircut, however, is innocent. And still highly revered.

Note: I'll come up with something about food for tomorrow.