Friday, October 3, 2014

Authority figures are never wrong.

 Except when they are.

"Correct the underlined verb in this sentence: How do she find time to practice that much?"

You might answer "does" or "did". Either answer is correct. I assure you. However, I answered "did" when this question appeared on my Honors English IV quiz, and it was marked wrong.

On a quiz with only five questions, missing even one is detrimental, and this was one of two questions featuring a little red X on my paper. The other question was legitimately wrong, and I missed it because I didn't read the instructions thoroughly. My bad. That one is my fault. But when I'm handed a 60% on a quiz when I could swear on my mothers grave that one of the questions was wrongly marked off, I can't take that quietly.

I walk calmly to my teacher when she clearly isn't busy and address her in private. "What was the correct answer for number one?" I ask. She tells me. I explain to her that I don't understand how my answer couldn't also be a correct option. "It's just wrong, you aren't supposed to change the tense of the verb, so 'did' is wrong."



I will spare you the long grammatical explanation, but because the rest of the sentence is "practice that much" instead of "practice this much" my answer is actually MORE correct than the answer she had in mind. And aren't we asked in every standardized test to identify which answer is the MOST correct? Yeah. That's what I thought.

But guess what. She didn't have the patience or respect to hear me out. After being interrupted multiple times, I stopped trying to explain my grammatical reasoning. I settled with "I guess I just don't understand why 'did' doesn't also work in this sentence," to which she responded "Well there's just no argument for it. It's wrong."

So is it wrong because it's wrong? or is it because you say it's wrong?

That was enough for me. I sat at my desk and accepted my failed quiz with a huff of inner satisfaction because after all, I knew I was right. But I was ready to let it stop there. My teacher, however, was apparently not mature enough to do the same.

She gets up, and announces to the entire class (words thrown at me as indiscreetly as flaming darts) that she "will not argue over every little question" and that if we have a problem, we can go tell the principal, but under no circumstance will she be "challenged.''

As she speaks, I return the glare she means to give me though she refuses to look in my direction.

Instead of pulling me aside like an actual adult, she attacks me indirectly in front of the entire class. Even I, the "ignorant teenage student" had the respect to approach her calmly and privately when I thought she had made a mistake.

Essentially, today she has established that for the rest of the year, no student may disagree with her. She could tell us we spelled our names wrong and take off 20 points, and we wouldn't be able to challenge it. Is no one else seeing the problem here?

But remember kids, never challenge the authority.

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