11 December 2007

- Plus Also -

Isn't it odd how odd bits of language enter your vocabulary almost against your will? Take "plus also," a common locution of the infectious Junie B. Jones meaning "in addition." In class the other day I was cruising along in class, lecturing on who knows what and suddenly I caught myself involuntarily saying "plus also." This was particularly weird inasmuch as we've stopped reading the books with my daughter since she is outgrowing them and can in any case read them herself.

It's worth pondering the controversy over the character, part of whose charm consists in such somewhat ungrammatical locutions. Some object to the character precisely because of her grammatical faults; she teaches kids, the argument goes, because she models an imperfect language and kids will pick up on such "imperfections" and treat them as normal parts of the lexicon. Clearly, as my use of "plus also" suggests this can happen. Yet I do not find this troubling. Such "mistakes" are characteristic of children her age and the series as a whole shows Junie B.'s language becoming increasingly mature. Plus also each error offers a teaching moment. Junie B. is particularly rich in ill-formed past tenses of strong verbs. As anyone with children knows, such confusion is common as children sort out the patterning of forming regular past tenses. Consequently, you can make a game out of it. "What should Junie B. have said here?"

Plus also I think it's way more fun to learn these sorts of lessons in this sort of context than through direct intervention, where kids learn only that they are in error and that they need to progress through life avoiding error rather than learning from mistakes. For mistakes open the gates to the unknown. Why would we want perfection to get in the way of exploration?


04 December 2007

- Why the BCS is better than a playoff -

Because the precedence it grants the powerful and its inherent unfairness mirrors that of a society that no longer even pretends to play by the rules of meritocracy. The BCS reflects just these values. Is it any wonder that people would get angry when they see a less than flattering image in the social mirror?