attack_laurel (attack_laurel) wrote,

The Persistence of Unease at the Idea of Knowledge Acquisition...

I am way too much of a grammar and spelling mole; I have to work mightily to not correct people on the intarwebs when they use incorrect homonyms, use semi-colons willy-nilly, or phonetically spell a wurd.  But I don't, because that's rude, and being rude is a far worse sin than typing "congradulations!".

This, however, makes my heart sing and my brain giggle like a little child seeing a kitten for the first time.

I love grammar humour.  Probably because it reminds me of those terrible teenage years when I tried to get out of awkward questions about why I was doing so badly in English; "because I never bother to turn in my homework" was not a good answer, so I claimed "I can't do grammar".  This led to several excruciatingly uncomfortable lessons on how to parse a sentence, a skill which I have never used as an adult (though "parse" has turned up as a crossword clue every now and then, so I suppose there's that).

Why would this terrible memory make me happy, you ask? Well, thankfully, I never have to go through those years again.  The sense of relief is palpable.  Put your hand on the screen; you can feel it.

Now wipe the fingerprints off your screen.

For my entire high school life, I got lectured on how I was failing at whatever schoolwork I got Ds in.  I rarely got face-to-face praise for anything I did, though I found out years later that my mother was effusive about my smarts to everyone else. Truth be told, school bored me to death (uh, almost - that joke probably isn't very funny when told by someone who tried to kill themselves twice as a teenager), and I simply checked out.  As it turns out, that D I got in World Civilization hasn't done me any harm; dropping out of college to get married was much more influential on my life.

(Kids, stay in school.  Just because I managed to make a great life for myself despite having no degree doesn't mean it's a good idea overall.  I'm just very, very lucky.)

One of the things I try to do in my SCA classes is make the lesson interesting and fun - my high school experiences of learning as boredom have informed my approach as a teacher.  I think too many people look at research (and the quest for authenticity) as a scary chore reminiscent of school, and I want to subvert that notion.  Learning can be great fun, especially self-directed learning.  Most people (adults and children) learn best when they're engaged in the subject, having fun, and able to relate their previous experiences to the information they're being taught.  Hence, in persona classes, we relate people's current political knowledge to the kind of knowledge their persona would have - history isn't dates and timelines, it's stories, gossip, and the stuff your persona cares about.  Say you're a middle-class woman in 1590s London; who cares what's happening in China, or even in Germany?  You're more concerned with the latest gossip about the Queen and Dudley.  Or who's sleeping with whom in the neighbourhood.  Everyday life is a series of stories and vignettes; something that straight history classes fail to express to their students.

Thankfully, learning as an adult is not about rote memorization, it's about following your star.  Self-directed learning means you don't have to go anywhere you don't want.  If your entire interest is left-handed widget-making in 16th century Holland, then the political makeup of the Spanish Royal family in 1460 is not something you're required to know to have a good time in the SCA.  No-one is going to make you do anything.  Isn't that great?

How does this relate to a grammar site?  Well, it makes grammar, something that people look upon with the kind of dread normally reserved for IRS audits, fun.  It's much easier to absorb something when you're entertained by the process of learning.  I always want my students to have a good time; my classes and my handouts hopefully reflect that.  It's not about catching people out in innacuracies, or tests, or humiliating people because they don't know enough about widgets; it's about making something I love sound so appealing that you're going to love it, too.

I love learning new things.  Hopefully, I can make my students love it, too. 
Tags: happiness, learnings are fun, research, sca, teaching, university
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