Monday, December 13, 2004

Illiteracy For Dummies

Let me preface this by saying that I love to read and write. I taught myself how to read at an early age, and though I haven't been reading as much as I would like lately, I still enjoy the experience of reading a book cover-to-cover, which is the style nowadays. I've enjoyed writing since 11th grade, when I wrote the poo-flinging monkey story, and I've been writing more seriously ever since I started this blog, which was nearly a year ago.

I guess I just have a knack for reading and writing. I don't know how else to explain it. All I know is, I must have something at least remotely special, because from what I've seen in my creative writing class this semester, reading and writing does not come naturally to a lot of people.

Take for instance our good friend, who will henceforth be called Evian. Or should I say, evïaN?Evian's writing talent has been mentioned on this blog once before, in my "The Grammar Police are on Duty" blog. He is a bright young man in my class who wrote the following educated comment about my short story, Darkside.

He wrote: "I came in late to class and only herd 1/4 of it. and new what this story was aimin toward. Awsome delivery soft and the begging hard punch in the middle and smooth drive at the end."

So when I heard that Evian was going to have his own short story read in class, I simply couldn't wait. And believe me, it did not disappoint. Well, grammatically, it was a travesty and an insult to the entire English language and all things sacred, but in the terms of being nonsensical and absolutely laughable to read, it did not disappoint.

Before I get to the main point of this blog, I just wanted to share some actual quotes from Evian's story, and analyze them. Rest assured that I have proofread these and they appear on this page exactly as they were "written" by Evian.

"We awoke in the morning so tired from the week we woke up at 12:00pm we went to hike up to a mountain that was only 20 minutes from the cabin and we toke two roles of Film in each camera we had two."

"We awoke in the morning so tired from the week"
OK STOP!!! The sentence actually makes sense up to this point, and is grammatically correct, more or less. Actually, compared to the rest of the story, this is a Pulitzer Prize quality sentence. But no, Evian had to continue on...

"We awoke in the morning so tired from the week we woke up at 12:00pm"
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but since when did 12:00 pm, AKA "noon", become "the morning"? I was under the impression that 12:00 pm was the start of a time of day called "the afternoon", also known as when Sean prefers to wake up. Personally, I don't think that the day should start until 12:00 pm, to ensure that all us night owls get enough sleep every night. But like I say, sleep is for the weak.

"We awoke in the morning so tired from the week we woke up at 12:00pm we went to hike up to a mountain that was only 20 minutes from the cabin"
It is unfortunate that poor Evian had to type this masterpiece on a computer that was made before punctuation was invented. Otherwise, this essay might actually make an itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy, itty-bitty, teeny-weeny bit of sense.

"...and we toke two roles of Film in each camera we had two."
First off, if you write like that, film isn't the only thing you're toking. I guess all that talk about film and cameras made Evian confused and thought he was talking about movie roles for a second. And why he took the time to capitalize Film when the rest of the sentence is already beyond repair baffles me.

Although I am impressed that he stayed in the past tense throughout the entire sentence. I'll give him that much.

As if that sentence wasn't bad enough, it is time for quite possibly the most ambiguous sentence ever written, courtesy of Evian.

"The wolf made a weird growl like two snowboarders around November I knew it was close to Christmas."

I love this sentence. Let's take a look at this as it is literally written.

First off, we have the wolf. The wolf made a weird (very descriptive word choice there, Evian) growl. The growl sounded like two snowboarders. Not only did it sound like two snowboarders, but it sounded like two snowboarders during the month of November, implying that snowboarders make different growling noises depending on what month it is. Because the narrator knows what the weird growl of two snowboarders in November sounds like, he is able to discern that Christmas is close, because he is also equipped with the knowledge that Christmas occurs sometime around the month of November.

Believe it or not, Evian wrote a 7 page double spaced story, with sentences just like those. What's even more amazing is that he actually figured out how to include double spacing in his paper when he can't even figure out how to use a comma.

Which brings me to my point. How can people get so far in school and yet be so ignorant when it comes to writing a simple sentence that doesn't contain glaring errors such as these? So I thought about it. I think the reason is that they goofed off too much in their earlier years of education, so that if and when they actually get to college, they are so far behind that they are actually more ignorant now than they were several years ago. So I think I may have come up with a solution.

Continue teaching English classes in junior high and high school for the few students who actually come to school to learn. But, in addition, for the less motivated students who maybe don't do as well in their English classes because they don't take the time or effort to do the work and learn the material, require them to take a class in the ever-growing field of Illiteracy. In this course, students will be taught how not to read and write, and they will be assigned homework requiring them to not read or write at all.

Now, you may be wondering what my reasoning for this is. As you know, students hate homework, just like cats hate dogs, fat people hate stairs, democrats hate republicans, ignorance hates knowledge (What? I didn't mean anything by putting those last two sets right next to each other! How dare you suggest such a thing!), and so forth. And if you are a fat democratic teacher who loves dogs, I'm sorry, but no one likes you.

Anyway, my reasoning for wanting courses in Illiteracy taught in school is that the students who don't do their work in school will be totally thrown off by this class. Their rebellious nature will become so confused because they want to do the exact opposite of what the teacher wants, but in this case, the teacher wants them to learn poorly and do nothing, so what are they going to do? Naturally, if they truly want to keep their rebellious allure, they'll have to do the opposite of what the teacher wants. That means they have to learn the correct way to read and write, and to practice reading and writing outside of class since their assigned homework is to not read or write.

Because you see, teenagers, for the most part, are idiots. And seeing as how I'm now 20, I can finally say this without insulting myself. I hated being associated with the word teenager, because it had such negative connotations that I didn't follow, like hating your parents and doing drugs for example, and I didn't like being blindly put in that generalization since those things didn't apply to me.

But anyway, back to my plan. Since teenagers are too busy trying to act cool, and since rebelling is cool, they'll get so caught up in rebelling that before they know it, the semester will be over and they'll have done more homework and learned more in their Illiteracy class than in all previous grades combined. It's almost too simple.

And for the people who don't feel the need to rebel in order to be accepted, they can continue on taking their normal classes and learning their way to college, so they can be the ones laughing at the "cool" rebellious kids who have suddenly made the awkward transition into "stupid" young adults. I'm so glad I'm not cool.

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