Monday, February 25, 2013

A Teaching Moment

Yesterday (2-24-13) was Sunday Birthday Dinner out for Zachary, grandson, now twelve. We have a little exercise going with our 4 grandkids, having them keep journals for---hate to say it---money, a great big $100 bill at Christmas. Zach was reading from his and he began a sentence with So. Mitch interrupted and said, You can't start a sentence with SO. I interrupted him and said Yes you can! So, Zachary continued his reading. Ashley also read from hers. (Mitch, the critic left his home.) It turns out Ashley is entering a contest to win a prize---an essay on world hunger. I gave her a bit of advice. I suggested she start with the most fascinating personal interest story she can find on the topic of world hunger, keeping it short and tight with strong verbs. Then go on with the essay, but keep the facts and figures to a minimum. Story-based always works best.

So, getting back to the matter of starting a sentence with SO. What a stupid rule. It only serves to make kids hate writing. SO not only serves to open a sentence, but also a paragraph and an entire story or essay or book: So the hunched over old hag walks into the bar. . . . Right there you catch the reader's attention. I'm not a rule-oriented person, as is evident in a ditty I wrote for my Creative Writing class more than three decades ago. I can't remember all the verses, but it goes something like this:

Forget syntax and grammer
Throw spelling out the door,
the parts of speech is for the birds
Don't study them no more.

Go burn your dictionary
with it, your speling book
for gerends and infinitives
deserve no further look.

Where comes this strange new teaching
How did it come it pass?
It's Tucker's brand new english corse
Creative Writing Class!

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