Friday, November 16, 2012

Public Service Announcement

{courtesy of my 8th grade yearbook}
I realize that not everyone was fortunate enough to have the inimitable Mrs. Donoghue for three years of English instruction in their formative years, so it is with what I hope is the unique blend of firmness and compassion that characterized Mrs. Donoghue's own instructional style that I issue the following public service announcement.

When attempting to explain causation, one can use the word reason or the word because, not both. Everyday I hear very intelligent people say, "The reason _____ is because ______." Stop doing that, people. It's redundant. What they mean to say is, "The reason that I make grammatical errors is Mrs. Donoghue didn't teach at my school." Or, more likely, "I make grammatical errors because Mrs. Donoghue didn't teach at my school."

While we're on the topic of redundancy, let's clear something up, shall we? When we're talking about time, a.m. stands for ante meridiem, which is Latin for before midday or before noon; p.m. stands for post meridiem or after midday. Soooo - you should not say, "Let's meet for coffee at 6 a.m. in the morning" because a.) too early and b.) redundant. Likewise, "I'm going to go out at 10 p.m. tonight" is both redundant and, in my case, probably a lie because that's my bedtime.

Side note - did you know that, in British slang, redundant means "laid off?" Just saying. 

I suspect that Mrs. Donoghue knew that she was meant to be my grammar sensai because she moved from the middle school to the high school the same year that I did. I had her for 7th and 8th grade, but obviously, she sensed that my training was not quite complete, so she took a job at the high school and I had her again in 10th grade. By the time sophomore year rolled around, she had remarried and become Mrs. Hannaford, but that never really stuck and she let those of us who knew her when continue to call her Mrs. Donoghue. I will leave you with this picture from my 12th grade yearbook that perfectly illustrates the awesome that is Mrs. Donoghue/Hannaford.
{pure badassery}
All those other teachers showed up for picture day to get their boring headshots, and Mrs. Donoghue's all, "What's up, students? Prepare to be schooled." 

One last thing - when I was teaching, I gave the same pre-test speech that Mrs. Donoghue recited every, single time that she gave us a quiz or a test, "This is a test. There will be no communicating, sharing,  gathering of information or you will lose your paper, take a zero, no questions asked." We never made a peep. In fact, Taylor Perry once sat there, blood gushing from his nose, raising his hand and waiting for permission to get up because we knew Mrs. Donoghue did not play when it came to tests. I never quite reached that level of mastery, and I'm pretty sure that my students thought I was a little crazy, but I think that was at least half the point. Either way - it worked, just like everything else she taught me.

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