California English Teacher Declares It’s Racist to Expect Black Students to Follow Grammar and Writing Rules
By Jan Greenhawk, Editor/Writer Radio Free Oxford
To all my former English students, especially the ones who hated grammar and writing rules, Marta Shaffer, a high school teacher in California (where else?) is on your side. Well, if you don’t want to learn how to write, anyway. This is her:
Isn’t she amazing? While using all the rules of English like syntax, word meaning, grammar etc., she shares the message that all the rules of English like syntax, word meaning, grammar, etc. are racist. It’s quite a feat if you ask me, and a great indicator of the true idiocy and racism that is present in some of our nation’s classrooms. The problem with teachers like her run so deep, it’s almost impossible to address. But I will try.
I was a former English teacher. I started out teaching middle school English and ended my career teaching high school English. The secret is that I hated grammar when I started teaching. I was young and stupid and had the misguided notion that writing should occur in a natural state like speech. Why should we care about all those rules of subject/verb agreement, verb tense, parts of speech? I didn’t see it as a racial issue, but a “freedom of expression” issue.
And then I began teaching and saw that without all those stifling rules, my students were almost incomprehensible in their writing. I realized that if we didn’t teach them the basics of grammar, they would never be able to write a college admissions letter, a job resume, or even a story about their lives. I wasn’t focusing on doctoral dissertations or scholarly research, I just wanted them to be understood and seen as educated.
Was that racist? No. In fact, it was opposite of racist. Teaching all my students how to use what I called “formal” English in the situations which demanded it was a way to overcome any disparities that existed. It’s like teaching soccer players the rules of soccer. If you are on the playground and want to play soccer with your friends, you may not need to the rules. But, if you want to play, good, organized soccer, if you don’t know the rules you are at a disadvantage. If my students could write in an organized, standard manner, they would have the possibility of success in the professional world regardless of their race or economic status.
That’s what Shaffer thinks is wrong. She says these are all rules created by White culture to promote White supremacy and, as an extra bonus, misogyny as well. I guess women and minorities aren’t expected to be able to use grammar rules in her mind. That in itself highlights her own racist and sexist attitudes!
She makes the point that the rules are all “arbitrary” and “made up.” I hate to tell her this, but most rules in life are “made up.” As one Twitter user said, “ALL RULES ARE MADE UP!!! We make them up to when I write something, the reader can understand, with precision, what I am communicating, without the benefit of my facial cures or body language or being able to ask clarifying questions.”
Shaffer says that “as an educator I am constantly worried if I am part of the problem.” She’s right about that part. She is part of the problem of incompetent, indoctrinated and foolish teachers who spew their ignorance and personal peeves to students and other teachers. Somewhere down the line, Shaffer must have gotten what English teachers call the “red pen treatment.” In other words, someone must have marked up her writing with a red pen and told her how bad it was. Many of us have faced that and gotten better because of it. Not her. Bitterness can really influence a person.
It’s also possible that she is a practitioner of what I call “compassionate racism.” She may have seen her minority students struggling with their writing because of their lack of exposure or education in grammar and decided that instead of teaching them the rules, she would remove the expectation that they could learn. In her mind, they would never learn how to write properly so why not just skip teaching them how? With that decision, she denied them of the education they needed. I wonder if she denied her other students as well.
Is she just trying to set herself apart as a virtue signaling “woke” teacher? I have seen people, in an attempt to stand out, say and do some pretty stupid, illogical things. And then, of course, like Shaffer, they post them on social media. If that was the case, I’m sure she was a bit shocked at the negative comments she got. Or maybe she wasn’t and just used those responses to bolster her ” systemic White Supremacy” theory.
Or maybe she is hopping on the latest fad of misusing pronouns to identify people who are suffering from delusions regarding their gender, species, etc. Every time I hear a singular person being referred to as “they/them” I look for more than one person because that is what that pronoun is used for.
I know one thing for sure. She is NOT a gifted, caring teacher. If she was, she would find a way to teach ALL her students how to write and speak in a world that has expectations for formal, business speech and grammar. She would help them learn how to structure essays and speeches in a manner that would promote them in their collegiate and professional aspirations. She would make sure they understood the difference between casual and formal speech.
But that would mean real creativity, skill, love for her craft, and passion for the formulas that allow us to be understood in any situation.
Instead, she chose to demean herself, her students and all teachers in her stupid, self-serving social media post. Shame on her and others like her.
Take a look at test scores nationwide. They are in the dumpster in all subjects, including writing and English. Teachers like Shaffer are a huge part of the reason. They must have decided that anything that challenges children is too hard, and they shouldn’t teach it. Instead, they spend their time mired in excuses and blame for why kids aren’t learning anything. They spread racial division and flawed gender identity ideology. It’s easier to teach those concepts than the actual content and skills that children need to know in order to be successful adults.
While they continue to do that, they are crippling our children and possibly destroying their future. And they don’t seem to care.
Homeschooling looks better every day.
Jan can be reached at Radiofreeoxford.com
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