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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: First Day of School (06/28/04)

TITLE: Books and Rulers
By Mary C Legg


Sweats, anxiety—another year in prison. The first day of school and already counting the days until the first holiday.

Noisy students crowd into a classroom, choosing seats to sit with their new found friends, not lined up alphabetically. They hug their books and analyze each teacher by clothes, speech and slow reactions. They know the scene and have the advantage when they enter, ganging up in collective groups and comparing notes.

The first day, the day when rules are spelt out, written in white on black slate.

Thou shalt not cheat. Let me count the ways:
in copying others' work
in "correcting " others work
buying papers and so on

Everyone knows the basic of rules of school:
Do your own work; prepare for exams.

Without rules, the work is meaningless. Wiithout rules grades are worthless. There has to be some base for evaluation of your work. Consider the problems from the other side. Education is a contract between teacher and student, not the institution and the teacher. You've got it all wrong there— The institution doesn't really need the teacher and doesn't need to learn anything.

This contract we have is a fifty-fifty bargain at best. Whatever you do forces the teacher to respond. If you work hard, the teacher works harder. Multiply the homework assigned to the number of students in the classroom. Estimate how many pages per night. Got it? That's a lot of work. You grumble about an essay? Let's change places.

But what about grades? A ruler isn't just the instrument you use to write neatly on a blank sheet of paper; it's a tool to create neatly outlined structures. How should the structure be constructed? Give it a thought for a minute.

1. Should grades be dependent on popularity? Does that mean the person who gets an A is the nicest person? Give the apple to the teacher technique? Rather empty value, isn't it. Popularity is often based on superficialities, appearance and status, but do either really reveal ability?

Or consider bullies—bullies intimidate and get others to vote for them or impress others to do their homework for them. Is that fair? Shouldn't grades be based on something that can be assessed?

2. Evaluate the work? Let's take a look. How easy are grammar exercises? Aren't they relatively brainless repetitions? Isn't it more difficult to write than fill in the blank? Do you think that canned responses ought to be weighted higher than original work? No.
What about mouthed cliches? Trite phrases and worn out platitudes?

3. Original work is more important? How should it be evaluated? Are there stupid and intelligent mistakes made in writing? Is "runned down the street" a stupid or intelligent mistake? Stupid. Why?

So what should the rule for evaluation be?

Content- the originality and depth of material
Coherence- the clarity of thought and communication of principles
Vocabulary- the ability to express complex ideas with appropriate language
Structure-organization and internal development
Mechanics- spelling, basic grammar, syntax, punctuation
Stupid Mistakes- runned, winned, they is

Would you stay at a concert where the soprano sang off pitch and was out of synch with the acompianist? No—you'd go to a rock concert instead. So it is with writing. When it's out of synch, the reader goes off to the funny pages or turns on the television.

If there are no mistakes, is there any need of a teacher? Would you ever improve if I let you cook up the same old hash with the same old indigestible mistakes.

It really doesn't matter to me if you hate me; because I'm not here to be loved. My first concern is my love for English--a very beautiful, rich language. There are rules, you know, and whenever I submit to an editor I have to play by them myself. And yes, I know about vanity presses and vanity contests, but really, I'm not into any of it. In life, you choose your goals and if you stumble and fall while going after them, it's very good sign that you are doing something very difficult.

Consider Adam and Eve—when did they begin their education? What happened after they ate the apple? Aha—their eyes were opened. Only then, did they have the opportunity of becoming educated and learn about the world they lived in. It's only through mistakes that much is gained. You see, really it was good. Now that you have free choice, use your brain.

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee07/05/04
definitely an interesting piece of writing this week...

Adam and Eve learned a lot after they ate the apple, but I'm not too sure they were excited about the new knowledge!
Corinne Smelker 07/05/04
Definitely a provocative piece, and some good points, hence the new way of judging the challenge.

I always enjoy your writing, your use of words really reflects not only your deep love of English, but your deep knowledge too.

Thanks for having the confidence and the bravery to post this
Norma OGrady07/05/04
Consider Adam and Eve—when did they begin their education? What happened after they ate the apple? Aha—their eyes were opened. Only then, did they have the opportunity of becoming educated and learn about the world they lived in. It's only through mistakes that much is gained. You see, really it was good. Now that you have free choice, use your brain.

I never thought about the Adam and Eve experience like this!
The point you are conveying is learn from your mistakes.
I don't look at it as a good thing that Adam and Eve lost the innocence they possessed.

The freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil
Blamelessness, freedom from legal guilt of a particular crime or offense.The freedom from guile or cunning. Simplicty, the lack of worldly experience or sophistication lack of knowledge "Ignorance" to all of this is like the first years of our life. I would of just been content with my eyes not being opened to all this. Smile..

Since they did get their eyes opened,
We get the education from the school of hard knocks.

Great article
Yeshua bless you always
Anthony David07/06/04
Good transition from the classroom to the Garden of Eden!
Bertie Patano07/07/04
I wish Adam and Eve had chosen to continue to get their education from God. Paying more attention to Satan opened their eyes to more evil,more hardship, more heartaches,one son murdered by his brother. Who would want such an education and after it was gotten who would want such grief? It was a high price to pay for 'Choise.'
Mary C Legg07/09/04
sorry guys--in all honesty it was the first day clear the boards-let's get this straight talk about grades in school

and cheating. I detest it.

Marina Rojas07/10/04
I've read this article several times, and have always left it with a sense of being unsettled. I think I've finally put my finger on it---these are words that reminded me of outstanding teachers who pulled out of me what I thought I could not give.

Thank you for causing me to recall the search for excellence in the written word.