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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Nit Picking Tuesday

This is the report writing season, when we try and describe a student's behaviour, attitude, academic performance, character, punctuality, appearance (including unhygienic personal habits) and future prospects in 701 characters (including spaces).
The 701 is not a number with any special mystic powers, it is just the number of characters (letters and numbers) I could squeeze into our report template.  (I should note that I'm responsible for the electronic production of the reports as well as the relief.  Someone got to me when I was vulnerable, OK?)

Last night the report-checking committee sat and proof-read all of the report comments produced by our staff.  Many of the comments were concise and accurate, some were dull and bland and quite a few were minimalist in the extreme.  But some were missing.
We have known that these report comments were due to be checked on Monday evening, immediately after school finished at 3:30.
Some staff were still printing out at 4:00.  Including Ringo I might add.  Really setting a good example, not.

But some of our so-called professionals, dedicated to teaching in every form had not printed out their comments.  Which meant that we had to check which comments were missing, and then we had to dig into the computer system to find them and print them.

Then the real fun began.  I've never seen people so incensed over a comma!  Blood was not actually spilled, but it came close.  We argued obscure grammatical and syntactical rules, debated long forgotten conventions, and shouted at each other over the presence of semi-colons.

Look, I like Nuova Lazio, the vast majority of our students are really good people, friendly, approachable and  community spirited, as are their parents and caregivers.  But concerned with the finer rules of English (or even the Kiwi variant) they are not.  Goodness, many of our staff have to use the spelling and grammar checker in M$ Word to write a coherent sentence, so I don't think that a comma here or there is going to influence the readability or interpretation of a comment.

But we're teachers, to whom such things do matter, so we argue and debate of the minutiae of grammar.  It's something we've always done.  In every country, in every town, in every school, it matters to us to get things right.

Well at least it does to most of us.  I'll be having words with the less-professional amongst our staff about their behaviour, attitude, academic performance, character and punctuality. (But not appearance (including unhygienic personal habits)).  That's just to gross to even think about.


  1. "That's just to gross to even think about."
    I think you meant 'too gross'.
    Please correct this post no later than 3pm Thursday.

  2. TSB (not the arena, the Scotsman),
    God loves you, but not your ways. Why not take some time tonight to listen to what god is telling you? Just don't take too much time making up your bloody mind. There are plenty more Scottish fish in the sea.

  3. Thank god you guys are there I needed ya.


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