I've just thrown my red pen down in disgust. I feel like breaking it in two just like at the start of Branded. Perhaps that's what I should do next Year 8 English lesson - call the child out and break there/their/they're pen into pieces. Then throw them out of the class, never to darken the classroom again.
What do you do when you're branded?
No matter how many times I try to get pupils to check their work and correct with a green pen (alright, quiet at the back - a green ink pen) which, believe me or not, they are required to do (I'm not a Gove* supporter so don't blame me), they just won't do it.
"Sir, I've finished, what do I do now?""Have you checked your work thoroughly?""Yeah, yeah, of course.""Are you sure? Definitely?""Yeah.""Have you . . ""Yeah.""Okay, have you swapped it with another student and checked each others?""Yeah, yeah, of course."
So how come I end up reading ill-edited, poorly written stories told in dialogue with no indication of who is actually speaking . . . ? Well, truth be told, it's because nobody cares any more. Perhaps they never did. They're just not hungry enough for it.
Recently, I have read books published - usually by independent publishers - and magazines that are sold throughout the English-speaking world (around five quid a head) that contain the most poorly edited script that I despair. I am fully aware that blogging and writing on screens for many of us (me especially) is not conducive to the best grammar - we always need to check our work. But, surely there should continue to be standards. As an English teacher who messes about with guitars, I am aware that there are many kids that are guitar players that are studying English.Surely, it is an important, and easy, point of order to continue the need for good communication? Kids that are switched off from education but play guitar (for instance) may read such magazines? So, if they were spelt correctly etc, etc, surely by basic osmosis, they'd start to read/spell/communicate properly? It seems to have worked the other way - over the twenty years of teaching I've gone from being a pretty good speller into being someone who has to read and re-check everything thoroughly in an almost OCD way before - and after - publishing even simple pieces of writing such as this.
So, here we are: I am now at the grand old age of 58 and beginning to think that the world has moved on so much into some sort of inarticulate, illiterate place that has no need of me that I really need to be moving on.
Retirement beckons. I am now five years younger than my father when he shuffled off this mortal coil. The fact that I never had to go and fight for my country or that I had a fairly good crack at being educated and have had a far more comfortable ride than my parents ever did is neither here nor there. With the constant underlying context of poor (and, by god do I mean poor) management and lack of parental, public and media support I really feel that it is time to think about "quality of life".
For the first time in my life, I now look at older people who retire, leave it all behind and think, "Lucky bastards . . ."
Deep breaths. Pass us that bottle, will you?
*okay, I can't support any of them!