Speling Erors Guarenteed

This is the first week of school for my two sons — one is a senior in high school and the other is in 8th grade — which means an onslaught of syllabi and introductory letters from teachers. It also means my annual gnashing of teeth over the number of spelling and grammatical errors in those documents.

Before school started I received an e-mail from the 8th grader’s Language Arts teacher. She used “you’re” where the correct word was “your” and she misspelled “guarantee.” I resisted the urge to print it out, mark it up with a red pen and send it back to the teacher. I’ve done it in the past, but I’m mellowing in my old age. Plus, I didn’t want to make things difficult for my son.

But come on! This is the teacher who is teaching my son Language Arts!

I’ve been called a grammar snob, but I don’t mean to be. I also don’t care because I believe using our language correctly is as important as using the correct functions in math and mixing the correct elements in science. Just as a 2 won’t do when the correct number is 3, “you’re” shouldn’t be used in place of “your.”

There simply is no excuse for these errors from a teacher. If they were typos, then she should have proofread her work. If she wasn’t sure which word to use or how to spell a word, she should have looked it up. These are things that I — someone who makes a living using the English language — must do every day. Within my reach right now are a dictionary and three grammar reference books. I use them all the time. Lots of similar handbooks are easy to find.

We all make mistakes, but we should learn from them and avoid repeating them. Like it or not, teachers — just as professional communicators — are held to a higher standard and they represent their larger organizations. This parent would feel a lot more confident in the quality of my children’s education if their teachers could produce a simple letter without errors.


3 Responses

  1. Amen brother. Yet another laser-guided blog highlighting the use, or in this case, misuse of our beautiful language.

  2. I’m a grammar snob too Robert, and I don’t apologize for it. Luckily, most of my friends are pretty articulate, and therefore validate my disgust, when I grouse about the spelling mistakes in menus, or grammatical offenses in billboards or road signage that literally jump up and slap me in the face they’re so obvious. I always wonder that no one else seems to notice these affronts.

    As you say, we don’t excuse the wrong number, yet somehow it is acceptable to ignore heinous savaging of our language in daily offenses.

    Teachers, of all people, should be using proper grammar and spelling. Particularly a “language arts” teacher. Honestly, he/she ought to be ashamed!

  3. You should email the link to this blog post to the principal. But don’t be surprised if nothing happens. I met with an administrator at my son’s school over the same exact issue, and I was surprised that he defended an English teacher for making grammatical and spelling errors. He said she had been teaching a long time and was a really good teacher.

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