Thursday, February 26, 2009

Metaphor: Bad prose and inspiration

I'm growing weary of the abundance of post-its on my computer monitor, so I'm trying to take them down today. (Don't worry, it doesn't take long the for the clutter to reaccumulate...) And, while I don't often blog about my students or my teaching, two of the little scraps I'm tossing seem worthy of sharing.

First, from a textbook, for the BLOCK THAT METAPHOR file:
"In reality personal and professional ethics share some common ground and this makes the perceived clash between the two easier to digest."
All last year, I worked one-on-one with an ESL student. Mostly, we marched through readings from class. The textbooks were so badly written and so abstract that I could see where the struggles came. This sentence was so difficult to parse and it yielded so little meaning (ethical behavior at work overlaps with individual ethics? really? stop the presses!), that I couldn't stop laughing and I copied it down just to remind myself how not to write, how much were were asking of our students.

Then, from an application, a wonderful moment of heroic rhetoric right here in the 21st century: "Like Leonidas at Thermopylae, my grandfather did not stop fighting..."

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