Friday, May 29, 2009


I had an interesting discussion with the 6th grade girls who sat behind me on the bus this morning. Today was an exam day and they were studying up for a language arts test. They know I am former teacher and pretty soon they were peppering me with grammar questions. "What's the only part of speech that has a comparative and superlative?" "Can you explain a gerund?" I was doing great and kinda got into the "I'm smarter than you" role, sighing a bit before each answer. Then Jocelyn Ortiz asked, "Mr. Perkins, what's a variable dependent clause?" I slipped a tad lower in the driver's seat and told her I really needed to concentrate on driving safely.

Funny, it was grammar that convinced Carole and me that we were meant to be. One romantic night during the summer of '68, one of us brought up a love for the antiquated practice of diagramming sentences. Quickly, the other chimed in, "You, too?" At that point, nothing else mattered. We looked longingly into the eyes of each other and mentally diagrammed, "I do".

I don't think diagramming is taught much these days. That's a shame because it teaches a way to understand word usage that works 99% of the time. It has gone the way of respect for teachers, phonics, and getting your report card signed by a parent. Oh, you didn't know about that? DISD doesn't require that a student return a signed report card to the school. You can drop it in a gutter on the way home and tell momma you lost it, but it had all A's on it, momma.

Can you diagram, "That's stupid!"?

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