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minikin

Minikin's Journal

Routine Ramblings of an Occasionally Interesting Housewife


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Because the mood list doesn't include furious or livid
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minikin
Critter has been struggling in English this year. His teacher is not following her own procedures. We will not even get into the issue of whether she is teaching proper grammar, since I'm willing to accept that grammar has evolved since I learned it, possibly even since The Columbia Guide to Standard American English was published in 1993.

In the punctuation of the following sentence:

My dog, Bob, is a golden retriever.

In contention are one or both of the commas, which are surrounding the appositive, Bob.

This is Columbia's word on punctuating that sentence.

His teacher claims that the commas are not correct.

I'm rather happy that I'm not going to be at the conference Flar has scheduled with her on the 19th, since I'm uncomfortable when Flar is ripping someone a new one. But she deserves it.

If only for the following reason. Which is why I am livid, angry and furious. In response to a letter that Flar sent, with concerns about the content and method that she is using to "teach" Critter, she answered that she was offended that he wrote to her about this.

Perhaps she could take appropriate offense that he is correcting her. But she said she was offended that he wrote AT ALL.

We are given the home phone numbers for the entire faculty at TLS. We are given email addresses for all faculty who maintain one. We have been encouraged for the last 10 years now to contact our childrens' teachers with ANY concerns that we have.

And she has the unmitigated GALL to be offended that Flar has contacted her about this?

I didn't hear her voice message. Perhaps I misunderstood Flar when he was telling me about this. He's not upset about her taking offense. I am. I asked him to listen carefully to her message, and that if she is truly implying that it was inappropriate for him to contact her, I want him to complain to the Head of Middle School, as well as the Headmaster. This is not something to ignore.

BTW, I talked with other parents whose children are in her class. The conversations I've had have clearly indicated problems with her teaching method, not just the "difficulty of the material."

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According to the Simon & Schuster Handbook for Writers, 5th Edition (1999), the relative clause "Bob" is a nonrestrictive element of the sentence meaning it is nonessential to the overall meaning and understanding of the sentence. "My dog is a golden retriever." is just as clear a sentence.

You can borrow my copy of the Handbook for Writers if you want.

So, does that mean it should properly be set off by commas, or not?

Sorry. I was so caught up in being aghast at the teacher that I forgot to clarify.

Nonrestrictive elements are set off by commas. Restrictive elements are not.

It is rather unsettling to think that Critter is being taught grammar, at such a picayune level, incorrectly.

I'm really more annoyed at the perceived attitude of the teacher toward Flar though. I don't understand why he isn't more upset about it.

My dog, Bob, is a golden retriever.

That's how I would write it, too. IMO, sometimes commas *are* optional. It may be just as correct to write "My dog Bob is a golden retriever." However, I would never say that one or the other was *wrong*.

One of the uses of commas, IMO, are to help clarify a sentence. In many instances they are optional.

For example: "I leave my estate in equal shares to my sons Bob, Bill, and Mark." This would imply that each gets 1/3 of the estate.

However, "I leave my estate in equal shares to my sons Bob, Bill and Mark." This could be read to imply that Bob gets 1/2 of the estate, and Bill and Mark get 1/2 of the estate (or 1/4 each). Sometimes, you just need the comma!!

Commas, of course, are the MOST USED punctuation mark in the English language.

And I thoroughly agree that the teacher should not take offense at merely being contacted by a concerned parent. Sheesh!

Flar still have the voice mail on his cell phone. When we're both home tonight, I'm going to ask to listen to the message.

I've reconciled myself to varying grammar rules over the years, and I can even see Critter having to conform to whatever arbitrary rules are being present to him. However, from what I understand, she is not actually presenting the arbitrary rules in accordance with the method of teaching she is using. It *may* be that this statement is inaccurate, and that we do not have complete information about her classroom procedures and whether she is following them.

We only have our son's word, that is.

I'm inclined to take his word over the teacher's in any dispute over factual observations.

Especially this teacher, who has already shown herself to be less than admirable in her parent-teacher interaction. The earlier failing - not notifying us, or having anyone else notify us, when she left school on short notice to take her baby to the doctor - that is excusable in my mind, although it does demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Yes, her child was sick. Her child was also in the hands of skilled care professionals. Surely taking the time to inform one's immediate supervisor that one is leaving ones work for an emergency is standard professional conduct? She didn't do that. The Middle School Head was 10 minutes hunting up someone who could tell her where this teacher was.

Flar still has the voice mail on his cell phone. When we're both home tonight, I'm going to ask to listen to the message.

I've reconciled myself to varying grammar rules over the years, and I can even see Critter having to conform to whatever arbitrary rules are being present to him. However, from what I understand, she is not actually presenting the arbitrary rules in accordance with the method of teaching she is using. It *may* be that this statement is inaccurate, and that we do not have complete information about her classroom procedures and whether she is following them.

We only have our son's word, that is.

I'm inclined to take his word over the teacher's in any dispute over factual observations.

Especially this teacher, who has already shown herself to be less than admirable in her parent-teacher interaction. The earlier failing - not notifying us, or having anyone else notify us, when she left school on short notice to take her baby to the doctor - that is excusable in my mind, although it does demonstrate a lack of professionalism. Yes, her child was sick. Her child was also in the hands of skilled care professionals. Surely taking the time to inform one's immediate supervisor that one is leaving ones work for an emergency is standard professional conduct? She didn't do that. The Middle School Head was 10 minutes hunting up someone who could tell her where this teacher was.

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