Beyond Grammar: Retiring from the Nazi


For the first time in my life, I have decided to not let grammar and lower order concerns be the deciding factor if a written work is A-worthy.

Being a Grammar Nazi is tough. People might think I enjoy proofreading every printed material or correcting their mistakes — no, it’s not an easy task, especially when you’ve got hardcore obsessive-compulsiveness traversing your bloodstream, and your bloodline.

Has an insect or an ant ever entered your ears? That’s what it feels like to hear grammatical inconsistencies — it itches your ears. And when it bites, or when the speaker does not stop talking that is, it makes you cringe. And the only way to relieve yourself is to tackle the source of pain.

While I consider myself a writer, I won’t say I’m a good one. I may well pass as a good writer because of my unparalleled grammar skills, but if you pay close attention to the content and diction in my writing, you’ll soon find out that my very limited vocabulary and lack of substance are meticulously covered by good grammar.

As a firm believer of learning through experience, I too have learned, over years of teaching the English language, that students have so much to say — much more than what we expect from them!

But almost always, they have trouble expressing themselves and they just give up on speaking out altogether — all because they couldn’t find the right words to say or the right method by which to say them.

You see, as a teacher, my aim is not only for my students to learn — I want to learn from them, too, and I honeslty believe I can. But, I figured, how can I learn from these young people if they are trapped in a system where only their teacher is the expert? How can they share what might become the turning point of their lives if the only method of sharing is based on pre-defined standards they have not even mastered and have little knowledge about?

For the first time in my teaching career, I did not include correct grammar in the rubric. If learning should be interactive in my classroom, teacher and student should both be able to express themselves freely.

So I took that leap — the challenge of finding something good in the content, in the person, and looking past wobbly sentence structures, vanishing punctuation marks, and somersaulting subjects and verbs.

Today, no — the day I assigned this blogging project to my students — is the day I left the Nazi office. And while I enjoy the mischiefs of essay checking and all, I will not be anymore conformed with the totalitarian principles of Grammar Nazism.


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