Thursday, October 20, 2005

Well, I declare...

I read a review of what seemed a moderately interesting book - perhaps the review was more interesting than than the book might be. With a teaser like this:

Tales of a teenage slut
In a hilarious new memoir, a "Six Feet Under" writer tackles feminism, teen sex, race relations -- and her dream of an all-female island.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Heather Havrilesky

I was charmed by the reviewer's comments: Soloway may be pissed off, but she gets us on her side by admitting things that most of us never could: That sometimes the people who say, "Everything happens for a reason" deserve a kick in the groin, or that there are days when the word "Toyotathon" can send even the most resilient, optimistic person into a serious funk.

So I thought I could use this as a basis for a writing assignment. I googled "Toyotathon feelings" and came up with only 75 hits, so I thought I had found a web-proof topic so I might actually get something original.

Since my students are still "unformed" writers - a cruel observer might say "uninformed" - my assignment was breathkingly simple: Compose an essay, in simple declarative sentences only, one and a half to two pages in length, on the theme, What are your feelings when you hear the word "Toyotathon"?

The first essay started, "When I hear the word "Toyotathon" I think, huge car sale (the punctuation is the author's).

As Aesop might have put it, "I dede shyte thre grete toordes".

Postscript: EACH student in the class was unable to write an essay in simple declarative sentences only. Some had as many as 26 errors...

One student asked me what was wrong with this sentence: "What were my feelings?" I told him that he was doing "one heck of a job".

My wife suggested that I bring drop slips to class.

No comments: