Top 10: Ways to make your English teacher hate you
Disclaimer: As a teacher, I hate not one of my students. I care for them all and wish them all the success in the world, prosperous futures and large portions of chips when they only ordered medium.
1. Use the phrase ‘a women’: Who the cuff taught a whole generation of teenagers that the plural of ‘woman’ is interchangeable with the singular? Who? Who? I need to know so I can go and push them in front of something moving. I have very probably spent a good 4-5 weeks of accumulative living time circling/ highlighting/ correcting/ gnashing my teeth at the incorrect use of ‘women’ in GCSE lit essays over the past three years. ‘Curley’s Wife is a lonely women’. You sound retarded. And no I don’t care if it’s not politically correct to say ‘retarded’. At least it’s grammatically correct.
2. Use a big font: Do I look stupid? Does anything about my demeanour suggest that I’m too thick to spot the difference between 200 words at point 22 font and 500 words at point 11? Nothing insults the intelligence more than handing in a woefully brief essay that has been blown up to larger font size, in the vain hope that your teacher will think you have written more than you actually have. It smacks of desperation, and all the typos are just easier to spot. Obviously.
3. Use a tiny font: Listen up wafflers. If your essay has spilled onto the 16th page and you are still typing, you need to stop. Meandering, dense, useless essays that talk limply around one poorly conceived idea are not, repeat NOT wanted. And when you finish the 34 thousandth word, reducing the font size to 0.5 does not mean your pile of nonsense is any the more readable.
4. A lot/ a lot: Ok. I shall say this once and only once. ‘A lot’ is not one word. Getting this wrong is really just a quick way of letting your teacher know you haven’t been paying any attention. Even worst is when the mistake takes on its own identity and ‘allot’, double l, starts to creep in. Admittedly, the English language is fluid and will evolve given time, but I seriously doubt that the ‘alot’ brigade are championing phonetics and linguistic evolution. Sort it out.
5. Ask: ‘Can we watch a movie?’: Now I love cinema as much as the next human, and I can definitely see the value in film as an art. Film is an important medium through which a narrative can be delivered and the watching of film should be actively encouraged. But. When some dead-eyed punk asks ‘can we watch a movie?’ it’s just their lazy way of saying ‘ I don’t want to think, am feeling lazy, want external stimulus and can’t be arsed to contribute anything to the human experience’. Chances are they’ll be bored during the movie anyway. All they want is instant gratification. I find it insulting.
6. Refuse to paragraph: What is so good about your writing that you cannot slow down, even for a moment, to start a new paragraph every now again? What makes you think your teacher wants to read a block of scrawl so heavy that the page looks like London Underground seat covers? Where the hell am I supposed to put a tick when you introduce a new idea? Are you that short of paper? I’ll lend you some. Stop being ridiculous.
7. Take no notes: I must admit, I have been guilty of this in the past, but I am extremely hardworking and extremely clever. So I can get away with it. If you are not both of these things, you can’t. You can’t get away with not taking notes. As a student, you are so far down the rungs of the critical ladder that to even enter a discourse of literary criticism is almost a rude action. Your humility as a lowly, ignorant student should be so painfully piqued that you at least pretend to jot down key findings as they are presented to you. You do not have amazing, original and insightful ideas bristling at the front of your mind. So you do need to write things down, mull them over and work out your ideas, in the vain hope that you will one day be confident enough to deliver ideas that younger students than you will want to take note of.
8. Decide something is rubbish. Yes, you are entitled to an opinion. On ‘Skins’, Ugg boots, the respective qualities of Kit-Kats and Mars bars, which McDonalds to go to, et cetera. But when it comes down to literature, your opinion is worth precisely bean. You are not allowed to say any text presented for study is rubbish, simply because you are not yet qualified to have an opinion. It’s like a four year-old saying all non-confectionary-based food is ‘horrible’. You don’t know any better. Yes, said text could be rubbish, but if it is, you don’t know why. Try to keep your mouth shut until you do (which could be a while).
9. Plagiarise, badly: Slightly controversial, but I don’t hate plagiarism all that much. It’s usually done out of panic or sheer bold laziness – neither of which alarms me all that much. The problem is when a student who two sentences ago couldn’t use the word ‘women’ correctly is suddenly exploring the subtleties of Dickens’ use of synaesthesia in chapter 8 of Great Expectations. Are you serious? At least try to hide your treachery. If only out of respect for my intelligence. Come on. Please?
10. Pass, despite all of the above: My professional instincts tell me that a successful student should be celebrated, regardless of how that journey to success was met. But I’m a human (a petty, petty human) and it irks me that a student who can commit so many unforgivable sins can still get through their exams. Yeah it makes me look good, but that’s little compensation for the frustration generated. Ok, will stop moaning now.