Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

In Which I Once More Demonstrate My OCD Side

Perhaps I am panicking here but...I don't know....should I be worried about what they are teaching the Small Boy in English????????????

I mean, when I was a girl (and I know this equates with dinosaurs as far as the BA is concerned), one of the biggest lessons you got each year in English was the correct format for the writing of greetings in cards and, naturally, how to address an envelope.
Two years ago when my eldest stepson asked me to type up and print out a resume for him, I observed with horror as he addressed the envelope in the top left hand corner! I knew he hadn't been particularly successful in the school setting so I wrote that off, but I now find that the BA cannot address envelopes either! She at least chooses middle top for her starting point (I meant to keep one and show you that too but I just slapped the stamp over half the address and posted it. I figure the postcode should get it to the right place in the UK).

So perhaps I should have known better when the Small Boy had a birthday party to attend last weekend. I bought the card for him and presented it to him to 'sign' foolishly expecting that at nearly 10 this should not prove too much of an issue.


The first problem was that he chose one of Dad's special 'roller ball' pens to write with: the ones that leave wet ink on the page just long enough for the left handed author to drag his hand over the freshly minted words. Seeing this he added a 'sorry' comment but, to his credit, he wasn't sure that this would suffice so he got another pen. He continued underneath, adding the little girl's name. Now in my day we were taught to put the name of the recipient at the top and our own name underneath the printed, commercial greeting however, I am willingly to accede this convention in the interests of individuality and creativity BUT- I am pretty sure it is still accepted practice to include one's own name on the card. No sign of that here.
(You thought I'd erased it for anonymity purposes didn't you? Hah! Actually I have insufficient skill or software for this exercise!)

I am also pretty sure that spelling your friend's name with a capital letter is still de rigueur (he altered this when I mentioned it) and I dunno, possibly knowing how to spell her name would also be helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mind you with some of the names they come up with lately, maybe that is how she spells Isabel!

And then there's the textspeak. Have good 1. Happy B-day. I suppose I should think myself lucky he didn't write 'hav a gud 1' or 'hv a gr8 day m8'. Ugh, I find the whole 'writing things in Messengerese' offensive.

Anyway, after we had examined the results of his efforts we found another card to give her and he started again. He completed this one successfully and shot off up the hall to his next adventure as I called him back to write her name on the envelope. Clearly fed up with the whole thing and obviously wondering whether this party was worth all this angst and effort on his part, he proceeded to write her name. On the back of the envelope.

I suppose the $5.00 (AU) x2 I spent on the cards is a small price to pay for literacy. What do you think? Am I being too harsh?


carrie said...

Ugh. NO! I don't think you are being too harsh. I think this entire generation is going to grow up and not know how to write or type anything properly - but ask them to text message something and they'll have an entire conversation in the time it takes you to find a stamp! It is frightening...yes!

I am working on writing a proper thank you note with Em - does anyone even do this for B-day gifts any longer? I will not let that die with me...my girls WILL learn how to send a note of thanks!

Arizaphale said...

Hooray for you! Hold that standard high!! There will at least be a pocket of literacy somewhere on the planet....

natalie said...

I teach 2nd grade in the US. That's seven and eight year olds. One of the MAJOR writing activities we do is letter writing. I try to find us a pen pal class at another school so we can send letters through the school postal system (we call it the Pony). I'm AMAZED that second graders don't know their addresses or how to even begin a letter. We work on it all year long.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

While I was giggling at your delightful description of the card signing fiasco, I was also whole heartedly agreeing with you!!!

I am thankful that there are several lessons in our school where students are to compose letters and actually send them - with the proper address placement on the envelope. Oh the things our technology saturated children don't know......several years ago DS was calling a friend - imagine his surprise when he got a busy signal. He told me the phone was broken! : ) With so many having voice mail and answering machines -he had no idea what it was.

As for Isabel, I thought he had only left off an "e" as my niece spells it Isabelle (I supposed as in Belle from Beauty and the Beast?) But yes, never quite sure how to spell a name these days. And as a substitute teacher - never quite sure how to say many of the names I am to call out for attendance! I have developed a rule for attendance - ONLY the child whose name I have called (incorrectly) may correct me if they see fit. I asked them how they'd feel if they mispronounced my name and 28 teachers shouted out the correct version....would they really have understood the chaos? That's for the older kids....for the younger kids I tell them it frightens me when they all shout at once! They giggle but comply with my rule.

Oh dear - that was a tangent if I ever saw one!!! Happy MONDAY

Arizaphale said...

Natalie.....Small Boy is in Year 4!!!!! :-(

Elisa: I still have trouble with one of the year 9 girls whose name is Alicia. So, is it pronounced Aleesha, Alyssia, Aleeesia.....I know it's not the first but there are so many subtle ways I can get it wrong and she just about crows in delight as she corrects me. Either that or rolls her eyeballs in this 'how can you be so hopeless?' fashion. *sigh* What's wrong with 'Jane'?????

Anonymous said...

Many moons ago our Lamaze instructor told us the story of a woman who took weeks - literally weeks - to pick out the perfect name for her newborn....went home from the hospital sans a birth certificate since she was not yet named, etc. Well, after weeks and weeks guess what she came up with???
I think of that story everytime I hear that name. Yes - Jane is a fine name - pretty impossible to mess that one up! : )

kim said...

I can still remember learning to write letters/address envelopes in school......
Maybe you should write a letter to his teacher. :-|

Andi said...

I read this post while at the beach, and had many, many thoughts on it...now that I am home, and have time to form my thoughts into words, I am not sure what I really wanted to say! I just know that NO, you were NOT being too harsh. It is sad to me, that communication in this world has been reduced to so little. I think hand-written letters, thank you notes, and cards are so personal and touching. Often I receive Christmas gifts from students with a card attached and absolutely nothing written inside of it. WTH??? I teach 7th grade (supposed to be around 12 years old, but often older) and they have no concept of what to do with envelopes, the proper format of a letter, conversational etiquette, how to answer the phone, etc. Many of the lessons that I teach involve drama in some way, so I am able to work in strategies for these things...and like Natalie, I often arrange for pen pals, though usually from a different country. I pay for the postage and such out of my own pocket because I believe this is such a worthwhile experience.
I thought when I first read your post that it was because SB is a boy- to me that explained his messy smudges and uneven writing, but really after some thought, that is just no excuse. I once knew a teacher in my first few years of teaching; her name is Ms. Layden. She had long since retired, but MAN! She was a stickler for handwriting, conversational politeness, dining etiquette, and such. She taught
3rd grade, and by the time the kids made it to me, I could ALWAYS tell which ones had been hers...they were SO SO neat, polite, and had THE BEST handwriting I'd ever seen, including my own! It just shows us all what high expectations can do for kids in their formative years!
Please do not fret one bit; you did the right thing, and SB is better for it!
Oh yes, I also can sympathize with the name issue...I have TONS of the craziest names that I have come across in my years as a teacher! Simply bizarre!