Adult students at our school have profiles attached to their text books, listing their level of language ability as well as some personal facts including age, full name, occupation and city of residence. At the end of each class, each teacher must write a few encouraging remarks in this space, as well as something helpful. Practice pronouncing the “si” sound, please. Remember to use articles. “I am drinking with my friends from highschool” (smiley face) vs. “I am drinking with high school students” (frowny face). Today, I glanced at a student’s profile as I prepared to write something similarly vague and immediately, my eye caught it:
“Fantastic work today, Maki! Remember – study your prepositions and articles to!”
Something scrawled by another teacher the week before, perhaps in a hurry. It was gentle and kind, sure to boost Maki’s spirits. Nonetheless: “to.” Without thinking, I quickly added the necessary second “o” at the end of “to.”
And then, as soon as I realized how unconsciously and perhaps foolishly I had corrected this careless error, I realized that I was writing with red pen. The teacher had written their remarks in blue. Should that teacher look at this profile during their next lesson, they would see that someone had snobbishly corrected their well-meaning comment and, perhaps be embarrassed. This had been the furthest thing from my true aims and I regarded my work with horror. As I gazed at the blood red mark of shame, I suddenly remembered that the pen I’d stolen from the teacher’s desk had 3 colors of ink. In about as much time as it took me to unthinkingly edit this teacher’s comment, I carefully covered the red “o” with a blue one. To my relief and shame, the evidence was undetectable.
I wish I could say that I corrected this teacher’s remark out of company pride or because I miss my real life’s work. Unfortunately, this is the kind of person I am – type A; A for “anal” or “authoritarian”. Or something else. I only hope that the crowd at the writer’s circle I will attend tonight will be kinder.