Monday, October 23, 2006

I Love You, Mike Greiner

Mike Greiner is my new hero.

(Okay, longtime readers of this blog know I have issues with the word "hero", but I really think this time it's kind of deserved.)

Who is Mike Greiner? He's a teacher at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia. And he, unlike many, many, many other English teachers in this country, actually takes at least a little bit of time to teach his students proper grammar.

I, for one, am appalled at some of the basic grammar rules which people today can't pin down to save their lives. There are people whose professional lives require a mastery of the English language -- or, at least, a basic grasp of it. And some of them still can't get simple grammar rules to save their lives.

I learned to diagram sentences in the seventh grade -- a little late, I know, but the public school system in Hawai'i just isn't all that. Although I never did get the whole thing down (check out the above link -- I would NEVER have been able to do that), I learned to appreciate the simple things like subject-verb agreement ("A network of arteries connects all the major organs of the body.").

Recently, through a horrible confluence of events, we had two large projects (each taking on lives of their own) due at the courthouse at once. I took on one project while my boss took on the other. I type my own work, and I'm the kind of anal guy who edits my work along the way. When I type the words "there is no precedent for this argument," I make sure the correct spelling of the word "there" is used.

My boss, on the other hand, being of a certain age and not as proficient on the keyboard, tends to dictate his work for someone else to type up. This typist, much to my dismay, doesn't type as carefully as I'd like. I end up insisting on reviewing my boss's work product before it goes out just for that purpose: I need to make sure embarrassing grammatical errors don't make it into the final draft of a document. As I edited this last round of paperwork for this major project, I could myself adding and removing apostrophes with alarming frequency. This happens often when we have a lawsuit with multiple defendants: our typist can't seem to make an effective and disciplined difference between the "defendants" and "defendants'". I find the following in drafts handed to me:

- Defendants argument ignores controlling Supreme Court precedent.
- Defendants' cannot escape liability for their actions.

I swear, I edited apostophes so much it got to the point where I seriously thought that my typist was deliberately using it incorrectly just to rile me.

I know I've blogged about this before, but there really should be more English teachers out there like Mike Greiner. God bless you, Mike Greiner.


MoDigli said...

and you even spelled "grammar" correctly! As a teacher, I am amazed at the number of times I have seen my colleagues spell it "grammer" ... Seriously! ... How sad is that?!

Steve said...

Chris is an English teacher, or as I call him, my Mr. Language/Grammar Person. I thought I was pretty decent in that department - until I met him. He's says I do a pretty good job (I go crazy with commas, though), but some of the stuff he reads on-line makes his head want to explode.

Rich said...

Holy flashback! I also had a seventh-grade teacher who was obsessed with instructing us how to diagram sentences. He even went as far as to dictate how we should organize our notebooks. All these years later I think I'm a better writer for it. I'm also a harsher critic. Hmm...