So I've always been a bit of an English teacher manqué. I’ve never actually taught English, but I’ve often exercised the English teacher impulses by such activities as:
- sharing literature with my kids
- editing my friends’ documents (upon request)
- writing scenes where an English-teacher-cum-superhero teaches literature to a bunch of mutant adolescents (see a lesson on Huck Finn and one on John Donne for examples).
I also can’t stop myself from mentally correcting the grammar on signs, commercials, and even song lyrics. This morning, for example, I found myself singing along to a song on the radio:
One fewer bell to answer
One fewer egg to fry
Well, now in my new job I have a whole new venue for enacting the English Teacher Tendencies: editing adoption summaries.
A big part of my job is reviewing all the documentation that goes to the court in support of an adoption. I ask questions and get clarification and correction on inaccuracies and inconsistencies before we send them on. This way we have fewer issues to address when the judge and court attorney review the documentation. A lot of what I question and correct is the actual content, but of course I also correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
One of the reasons (almost) everyone needs an editor is it’s hard to see one’s own mistakes. Human brains are expert at correcting and filling in; the author often reads what s/he meant to write rather than what s/he did write. A new pair of eyes (or foursome of eyes, in my glasses-dependent case) can see things that were missed in authorial review.
I’m happy to provide that service. Plus it’s often fun. Some of the mistakes are really funny! Here are a few of my favorites:
“[Prospective Adoptive Parent] is committed to not using corporate punishment.” I figure she pledges not to put the kids in cubicles and make them write memos.
“[Prospective Adoptive Child] enjoys the traditional foods of the household, particularly Curry Children.” Hmmm, how many previous kids were placed there? Do we know what happened to them?
“[Prospective Adoptive Child, a teenage boy] demonstrates good boning with all members of the family.” I’m pretty sure we would frown on that kind of thing, if it were really happening.
In addition to the above, I insert a well-known quote in my email notice of our weekly adoption conference call and promise a prize to the first person who guesses the source.