Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Method in the Madness

“Fifty percent of what people say when they are joking is true, which means, you do wanna go to this wedding but you are too afraid to admit it. So, by making some sort of joke about it, you get to say what you really want without being vulnerable.”

The Sweetest Thing

So, you know I “joke” about wanting my students to stand up on their desks and salute me as their captain. I “joke” about it in my profile and I may have “joked” about it a few times in my posts.

So fine. Maybe there is a little truth to it. I mean, I don’t literally want my students to stand on their desks. Of course, if they felt compelled to, I wouldn’t tell them to get down, but that’s not really my main issue. I am envious of John Keating, not because his students saluted him as their "Captain," but because he taught literature.

I love literature, and I would love to teach it. Of course, I love grammar too, but there’s a different kind of pleasure that is derived from expounding on the proper uses of the comma than that of discussing the poetry that drips off the page of a Toni Morrison novel.

Well, today, while I was grading papers, something glorious happened: grammar and literature met. Some of my students’ work reminded me of these famous words from Hamlet:

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.”

These words were spoken by Polonius about Hamlet. This is a grammar blog so I won’t go into the context, but basically, what he is saying is that Hamlet is crazy, but within that craziness, there is some kind of cleverness- just like these sentences from my students:

I like all kinds of movies, but foreign films are my guilty pressure.

At first glance, it seems as though what she meant to write was guilty pleasure. But, let’s think about it for a second; maybe she did actually mean guilty pressure. He’s Just Not That into You is a guilty pleasure. 27 Dresses is a guilty pleasure. Basically, any movie starring Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl is a guilty pleasure. But, foreign films not only often require the reading of subtitles but are also often complex and nuanced. Maybe this student knows she should watch Fellini and Godard, but would really rather watch Love Happens- hence her guilty pressure.

It made me believe that there was a chance to find someone who I could spend the rest of your life with.

This seems like pronoun madness, or is it? Maybe she’s just being realistic. Let’s do the math. This student is probably eighteen years old. By the time she finds someone to spend the rest of her life with, she’ll be, let’s guess, twenty-eight. By that time, I will be forty-four. With the divorce rate so high, she has more of a chance spending the rest of my life with someone than hers.

I need to learn how to chanel my artistic abilities.

This is definitely an error, but is it a spelling error or a capitalization error? She could want to learn how to channel her artistic abilities, but I do teach at a fashion college, so she could want to learn how to Chanel her artistic abilities. If she meant the latter, brilliant!

Speaking of Chanel, I wish my husband made enough money so I could afford a Chanel handbag.

I'm totally kidding.


Jeffrey Beesler said...

This is an excellent reminder of grammar. The middle example could also serve wonderfully in a sarcastic undertone, depending on the situation in which it's used.

Thanks for the post!

HulaBuns said...

LOL! This is great. I'm certain that your student wants to learn how to Chanel her artistic abilities. ;)

I love the guilty pressure one! Hilarious. :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I want a Chanel jacket. That chick was a designer. So artistic!

There is a lot of pressure to seem worldly by watching foreign films but I get more pleasure in reality TV. You're right! It wasn't a mistake.

The one about pronouns confuses me because math is involved.

You have brilliant students.

Meg O. said...

That Billy Shakespeare quote is probably my educational mantra. Such is the life of a theatre teacher. I swear outsiders think we are some sort of weird cult when they walk into my classroom. I love this post. I want to Chanel my artistic abilities pretty much every day. If only I could afford to do so.

keppi baranick said...

Your students have a brilliant teacher and I'm going to buy myself a Chanel handbag. I totally deserve one. Do you want me to get one for you too? I didn't think so.

Boonie S said...

I often tell jokes about Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotsmen. What does this say about me?
Great post - as always.

Have a nice day, Boonie

Carolyn Abiad said...

Wish I could channel some Chanel over here...or Hermes! LMK if you figure out a way to do that ;)

No One Reads The Copy said...

LOVED this post. While not exactly what you're talking about, I was just talking about this with my friends the other day, how I never like to say: "just kidding" or "only kidding." Because it cheapens the joke or the sarcasm. And they said, "but then we never know if you're really kidding."

The truth is, I'm probably not kidding. So why say it.

Either way, not exactly what this post is about, but hilarious writing nonetheless.

Stephen Tremp said...

A Freudian slip maybe? I don't joke around as much as I used to because many people do not have a sense of humor. Otherwise, they would laugh at my clever, witty, and ingenious comments subtly pointing out their faults while exercising my superiority over them. Just kidding, of course.

Stephen Tremp

Hart Johnson said...

Me, I just have methodical madness, but I'm not sure that is unlike Hamlet. I love word errors that you can turn into something meaningful, especially if you can call on Freud and insiste that is what they meant *high 5s Stephen*. This is why misattributing is my superpower...

Christiejolu said...

Again I just love your posts...Your students are lucky to have you!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Brilliant, once again! A person can feel a certain amount of pressure to watch foreign films, and you really have to pay attention to them since you need to read the dialogue!

Julie Musil said...

LOL at that last comment!

I can't watch foreign films, and I suppose that's the yodel in me. If I want to read through a movie, I'll just read the book!

Awesome, clever post. As usual. (Please do your best to ignore any grammar mistakes in any of my comments. Forever.)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Hahahahaha! Girl, you crack me up. Guilty pressure! I will have to use that one. I wish I could've had you as my grammar teacher in sixth grade. Your'e way too much fun. Except, you were probably just a tiny tot then and would have really screwed with my grammar.

kathryn said...

Oh, honey. What an incredibly optimistic, naive post this was!

You get an A for effort...and faith that those students actually have a clue.

I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry!

Georgina Dollface said...

Very funny post! Who says these are wrong? It just goes to show how subjective language can be! - G

Smileyfreak said...

This post made me think,I like that :) Thank you!

Carolyn Abiad said...

Not sure if you do awards - but I received the Yo Gabba Gabba "Strangely Irresistable" one and I thought of you.