Classes begin on the 20th. Weeks ago, with the break stretching out ahead of me, I decided I would leave all school-related work until the final week. Now here it is. So today I will begin going through last semester's notes and handouts, deciding what is worth using again. I'll have another go at cleaning up my files and folders, convinced that someday I will arrive at a system that works. Do I put the handout on avoiding passives in Grammar > Passive or in Writing > Improving Sentence Structure? The one on relative clauses in Grammar > Clauses or Writing > Sentence Combining? At least no one here is asking me to teach grammar apart from writing, as they have done elsewhere. The students all clamor for grammar exercises, oblivious to their total lack of efficacy. No one ever improved their writing by practicing grammar.
The grammar mavens among you probably noted the 3rd person singular their in the previous sentence, officially named the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. Technically, it is singular they that won the award, but it's the same issue. I will take on all comers in defense of this usage. I wonder if the SAT people will catch on. Here's one of the questions that should be tossed out.
The crowd (A) remained oblivious (B) of the fire, and (C) only moved out of the
way when (D) they heard the approaching sirens. (E) No error.Though it's still mid-morning, I have been up for 5 hours and have not touched my files, paper or digital. Instead I've drunk several cups of coffee, looked at the papers online, finished last week's New Yorker, caught up on the blogs, cleaned out the toaster and ordered a pair of winter boots, sure that it will be cold and snowy eventually.