Inconceivable Truths

Tonight I was writing my Shakespeare essay. An exciting Tuesday night for sure. However after 4 pages I discovered (with help from the OED) that I had been using the wrong word for the entire paper. This little instance brought a certain movie to mind. For those of us who has seen the movie, The Princess Bride, the word “inconceivable” often brings up mental video montages of the little bald guy. The one scene that has always stuck with me is when Indigo turns to him at the top of a cliff and says, “That word, I don’t think it means what you think it means”.

So upon discovering that I (an English major) had been using the incorrect word, I couldn’t help but hear Indigo’s Spanish accent in my head taunting me. This got me thinking. What if one day I teach something that is incorrect?

Now we’ve all had those moments when you were sure something was correct and then your friend proves you wrong via Google. I’ve had many more of those than I’d like to admit and sadly, a good chunk of them are English related. I’ve never been terribly good with grammar. I don’t really think about sentence structure or prepositions that I shouldn’t end my sentence with. (Haha!). I usually just go based on gut feelings. I’m good at things like literary themes and reading into characters. As a teacher I will be expected to teach the things that I’m good at AS WELL AS things that I’m not sure about, like grammar rules.

So what if I teach a student something that turns out to be untrue?

It seems like a stupid and insignificant fear, but with the emphasis on standardized testing that we have, I’m worried that my job might be at stake because of something that I tell my kids. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of pressure on teachers. According to my education classes, we’re expected to be: facilitators of learning, confidant for students, positive influences, people who introduce cultural diversity and awareness, critics but not too hard of critics (this lovely blog post talks about how opinionated people are about grading in red pen), graders, neurological developers, role models, bringers of good test scores, protector of children, technology savvy, aware of family life of students, teachers who consider ALL of the learning styles, and more.

As teachers, we walk a fine line as it is. Our jobs tend to be put under the microscope in our communities and when kids turn out badly or score low on tests, we are the first to blame.

So how do we keep from getting blame for a student’s misinformation? After all, I’m human. I’m not going to know everything and there will most likely be a time where I am wrong.

No class…that word does NOT mean what I think it means…

Comments appreciated,

Anna B.

Speaking of Princess Bride……here’s a blast from the past in all of its glory.

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About spiffybanana24

I'm just an English Education student learning to take things one day at a time.

One thought on “Inconceivable Truths

  1. First off, hooray for Princess Bride references!

    I know exactly how you feel. As English majors, there is that extra pressure due to the misconception that we are walking dictionaries, able to define even the most obscure words at the drop of a hat. Can’t tell you how many times someone’s asked me what a word means and when I say I don’t know, they look at me funny and say, “Well, aren’t you an English major?”

    It’s going to happen, telling a student the wrong thing and then realizing you’re wrong. I did it all the time when I would tutor seventh graders in math! And, as nerve-wracking as it is, I’ve found that most of the time, the students accept that you made a mistake and allow you to reteach it with very little fuss. Maybe that’s because I admit I made a mistake. I turn bright red and sigh and say, “Oh my gosh, you are so right; I did make a mistake. Let’s try that again.”

    I think the important thing is to admit your mistakes. It happens; we’re only human. But as long as you come out and admit you taught something wrong and are sincere about it, your students will be pretty understanding. And I think that goes for any profession.

    So don’t fret. And don’t be like Vizzini (’cause look what happened to him in the end).

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