Brain of the Day: An English teacher in Maryland, USA, has been forced to apologize after setting her English class an assignment where they had to use “3 gerunds, 3 infinitives, and 3 participles” to describe how they would kill her.
As anyone with any sense might have guessed, when parents discovered the topic they reacted immediately and badly. The teacher, Patricia Lorenzen, issued an immediate apology claiming she was just trying to engage her students. Following this the assignment was ditched with all students receiving an automatic full credit regardless of whether they’d done it or not.
It’s an appalling exercise on all fronts.
Firstly, the subject matter is questionable to say the least given the somewhat commonplace shootings at American schools.
Secondly, it’s pathetic the way in which some teachers try to be daring and cutting edge in order to engage their students (a bit like finding your grandparents in saggy pants and bling). Instead of using cheap tricks like this they should actually try to be inventive and use their minds; that’s what good teachers do!
Thirdly, why were all students given an immediate pass grade for the assignment whether they’d done any work or not? Think about what this teaches them: procrastinate and you might end up the winner. Undoubtedly a bad message from the school authorities here.
And finally, what is the point of forcing language into a context? Getting students to write an assignment with certain verb forms is like picking up a wrench at random and going around trying to find a bolt it will undo. Any one with any sense will tell you that the language you use suits the situation, not the other way around.
Sensitive Subjects in TEFL – more things you shouldn’t mention in class
More on this Story – in the Washington Post