In spite of or because of?

Posted By: Faldage

In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 06:40 PM

In another thread, tsuwm states that he maintained an interest in words in spite of a teacher's marking him down for correctly using the word career in its meaning: To move or run at full speed; rush. In the same thread sjm mentions his use of the word implode and I mention an experience with the word kookaburra, each with similar reactions from teachers.

I wonder how many more of us have had similar experiences with teachers and whether those experiences may have had any effect on our interest in words.

Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 08:50 PM

hehe. I just posted in the merganser thread about this very thing! although my experience with words is deeply family related; we kept a place at the table for the dictionary... my thought is that most of us have had similar experiences because of our love of words. that those who don't care about words like we do would never start up the fight in the first place...

Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 09:22 PM

I wonder how many more of us have had similar experiences with teachers and whether those experiences may have had any effect on our interest in words.

Interesting subject to me. As I've mentioned previously (some time ago), I had some real cretinous teachers and some real gems. The only time I ever recall having had my English corrected and still strongly disagreeing was in HS over a poem I'd written http://www.geocities.com/elbillaf/timely.html. But it wasn't a severe disagreement, and I actually liked this teacher a lot, and thought she was pretty good. Also, she gave me a B once and called me on the carpet once (but I don't mind being reamed when I deserve it). By asking me questions, she got me to figure out that the 'little lame balloon man' was actually Pan.

I don't so much worry about bad information. I expect teachers to make a lot of mistakes. I'm more concerned with faulty educational procedures and displays of utter lack of concern or understanding of the subject matter. I'm not even annoyed by a display of minor ignorance in the subject area.

I can't think of a word example, but I had a science teacher in one grade whom all the other students loved and whom I thought was buffoon. The guy reasoned poorly and didn't understand what he was teaching very well. But he was a nice guy and he spoke authoritatively. So everyone else thought he was sliced bread.

I did have a teacher once (also HS) who chewed me out for not following along in Julius Ceasar read-aloud, because I had Cyrano D'Bergerac stuffed inside and was reading it instead. (I'd read JC about 5 times at other schools). This same teacher called me a jackass once (in so many words, and it was very well-deserved). I didn't like her at the time, but in retrospect I think she was okay.

One thing that got me interested in words was just being bored at an early age and finding some way to pass the time in the dictionary. Also, taking a course in etymology in middle school was pretty provocative. And taking the two years of Latin in HS sent me further down the track. Also, just reading really got me. How come two guys can say almost the same thing, but one guy's stuff is hohum and the other guy's stuff ya just wanna read over and over and over? Some writing is like a jingle you can't get out of your head. Further, I had a few teachers who would let me just go off on weird tangents when I got the rest of my work done - so I got to spend a lot of time reading other things. Also, the expanded reading selection I've had since I graduated introduced me to a lot more words and a lot more ways of using them. The AI and CS stuff has made me think not just about words, but about context and meaning, and interpretation. Finally, conversations with my friends have had maybe the biggest impact. Just talking things through with other people. As well as reading arguments about words that other people have had. I'm interested in the inherent ambiguity of words in context - and I'm intruiged when I find examples of two people ostensible talking about the same things in different ways, or two people believing they're talking about the same thing, but in reality different things.


Posted By: wwh

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 09:44 PM

Dear FF: my browser won't open your link. And my curiosity is killing me trying to figure out
connection between Pan and little lame baloon man. Please elucidate a bit.

Posted By: bonzaialsatian

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 09:46 PM

I guess one of the things that really influenced me in being interested in writing (which lead to reading other's work and words etc.)was an English teacher that I had about three years ago. At that time, unpressurised by exams, we did a lot of creative writing projects, where he would set a theme that we would write about. I got a bit bored of always going for the obvious like everyone else did, so when brainstorming ideas, I used to come up with the most strange, downright wierd ideas i could think of. I never really intended to carry them out, but he was so sarcastic about some of my ideas (obviosly thinking that I wouldn't use them) that I did, just to get my own back. I've been writing reams of stories and poetry ever since.

My current English teacher in fact recommended AWAD to our class a while back - I guess I'm the only person 'geeky' enough to have followed that up. If my friends knew...

Posted By: TheFallibleFiend

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 09:52 PM

Heya, Bill,

The Little Lame Balloon Man isn't from my poem, but from Cummings' poem "In Just-". The Little Lame (goat-footed) Balloonman is Pan, or at least an allusion to Pan - whistling far and wee.

in just-

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan whistles

e.e. cummings

Posted By: wwh

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 10:30 PM

Dear FF" Thanks for posting the poem. I was deaf in my poetry ear even before my tinnitus
made me so very deaf. There are only a few poems I can truthfully say I enjoy. But I admit
the fault is mine. There is tone deafness, and I guess something similar happened to me.

Posted By: Wordwind

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 10:54 PM

Dormers. That's what did it for me. One glorious day my freshman year in college I realized that those little rooftops over windows had a name of their own. Dormers.

With that single word, pulsating in my head, I became addicted to reading dictionaries late into the night.

And it's a love affair that hasn't stopped for a breath since then.

I absolutely love being hit in the head by fish.

Posted By: slithy toves

Re: In spite of or because of? - 12/03/02 10:56 PM

When I was a college freshman my English teacher marked me down for using as though, insisting that it had to be as if. I guess it made an impression on me, considering that I still remember it fifty years later.

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