NYC Teacher to Possibly Lose Job for Ordering Books for Students

A teacher in Brooklyn is currently in a fight for his career and well-being, but the reason for it is astonishing. He teaches AP English. He assigns Shelley’s Frankenstein to his students. Last year he ordered 102 copies of the book directly from a publisher on his own dime and proceeded to sell the books to students for $2.

I think in this situation it is important to note a few things. He’s been teaching for nearly three decades and he’s won awards for his work. Last year he filed unfair labor charges against his employer for what he calls a dumbed down curriculum.

All of this led to his immediate removal from his classes and placed in an administrative assignment.

I’ve read parts of an interview in which he brings up a valid point. The school says he violated some rule about selling books to students, but no one complained about students having to pay $6 for their copies of Hamlet from the school bookstore. He was providing his students with the books they’d need for class at a financial loss. This guy wasn’t trying to make a few bucks at the expense of his students and their parents. He wasn’t doing anything malicious. He was doing what teachers do by spending his own money for his classroom and students.

I have no idea how this will ultimately play out, but I believe he should be reinstated immediately and any disciplinary action as a result of this particular incident should be wiped from his record as a teacher. My guess is he’ll be fired or a settlement will be negotiated and he’ll go away. I’d love to see him fight it as long as he can.

What do you think of this? A teacher buys more than 100 copies of a book for his students and then gets removed from class.

Advertisements

On Writing Tutors

Just yesterday someone asked me to look over an analysis paper written for an English class AFTER it was turned in. So I did. And I was surprised to find out that this person had a writing tutor. And this wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked to do this for someone.

I have to be honest. When I was in college I wrote somewhere between 30-40 papers. Maybe 20-25 percent of those were English analysis papers and the rest were CJ papers. But the topics never mattered, not really. I always knew my worst paper would never score any lower than a high B. This has nothing to do with cockiness or even confidence, it’s simple fact. I wrote more than 90 percent of all of my papers in college between midnight and eight in the morning of the day they were due. Why did I do this? Because it worked for me.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that I know how to write great college papers like I know the back of my hand. It’s just something that was easy for me as it most likely was easy for you. So when someone asks me to read over something I don’t play nice. I give it to them straight. Because what’s the point of being asked for my opinion if I’m going to pretend that it’s something it isn’t? Turns out almost everything I told this person had already been said by the professor.

But it got me thinking about the writing tutor who has repeatedly said she disagrees, and that the paper is excellent. I don’t particularly care what another person says about it because I read it with my own eyes and reached my own conclusions.

So I put myself in the shoes of a writing tutor. See, writing isn’t the same as math or some other subject in which there is a very clear right and wrong answer. One person can reach the exact same conclusion via a completely different route from another person. And that’s okay. And I realized that my philosophy as a tutor would likely be very different from just about anyone else’s. As a tutor, I’d want to be involved with the student as early on in the essay writing process as possible. And time permitting, I’d do the assignment myself. Perhaps without the student having knowledge of this. Because then I’d be in their shoes with a real perspective as opposed to someone who is simply looking at the paper.

But my question really comes down to how much should the tutor help? Let’s say the paper is gone over once with the student and corrections suggested. How many more times should this be done, if any, before the paper becomes the work of the tutor rather than the work of the student? I don’t necessarily have the answer to that, but I do think a tutor has a responsibility to the student to be honest. Be critical. Be reasonable. Don’t give the student ridiculous expectations that can’t be reached. If you work with a student who is really struggling and you’ve reached the point at which the paper is as good as it’s going to be as written by the student, then say that. But don’t give them the idea that it’s better than it is. Because you’re really not helping at that point.

I have no experience with writing tutors, do you?


On this day in 2014 I published Books You MUST Read.

 

What’s Your Take on Writing Prompts?

writing prompts

Photo Credit: Writing Prompts For Kids

I can honestly say that I’ve never once used a writing prompt to write something. I just don’t see how they can help. Even though I know there are SO many people who use them every week when trying to decide what to blog about. No. If I don’t have a decent topic to write about, then I won’t be writing anything. I’m not going to come up with something I don’t find interesting just for the sake of posting. That’s stupid.

And I definitely wouldn’t use a prompt to write any fiction. If you can’t come up with the basis for your fiction story…then what the heck are you doing trying to write? The only environment I’d ever encountered writing prompts before I ventured into WordPress was in a few of my English classes in high school. I think one of my teachers had one of those little books with really random writing prompts that were supposed to help you get SOMETHING down on paper. Or when the prompt would be written on the board before you get to class. And the first five or ten minutes would be spent writing. Pretty sure those teachers stole those prompts from those little books. Come on, they could have at least been original. Sheesh.

I really have no idea how often or how many people actually use these on a regular basis outside of blogging. And I don’t see the point of them at all. But what’s your take on writing prompts? And don’t tell me they enable you to write something when you don’t know what to write about. Because how hard is it to Google something or just steal an idea that someone else already wrote about? Not very hard.

One Space, Two Space…There is no Debate

I’m sure you have absolutely no idea what the heck I’m going to be talking about if you just read the title of this post. That’s okay. I’m only writing this because I’ve read other posts that just leave me scratching my head. I’m talking about the number of spaces after finishing a sentence. This is not something I thought could be questioned. To me it’s like asking if the  first letter of the first word in a sentence should be capitalized. Let’s go on a quick trip down memory lane.

When I was in high school and my English teacher would give out paper assignments I struggled to meet the minimum length requirements. And by struggled I mean I did whatever I possibly could to write less than the required length. There are a number of ways to do this that I won’t get into, but I am well aware that these tactics are used every school year in just about every setting. One of the things that I did during my high school days was put two spaces after every finished sentence. I did this for some time. But if my memory serves me correctly, one of my English teachers told me about it and said it is proper to only have one space. I ignored her. Ha. But in college I was told again. And this time I was more comfortable with my writing and thought page requirements were hilarious because they were so easy. So I decided to use the appropriate number of spaces after a sentence rather than be docked points.

But make no mistake about it, I never thought two spaces was proper. I just used two spaces as long as I was allowed to do so. Pretty much what we all do when we’re doing something that isn’t quite right. But now, seeing “writers” claiming that there is no set rule and they use two spaces is an absolute joke. Write something in Word and use one space after sentences and then change it to two spaces. It does not look right. At all. So shut up.

I would link to A LOT of academic and other credible resources that tell you what is and is not acceptable when it comes to this particular question, but I’m not. Cause this isn’t a valid question at all.