[Milton-L] Why teachers retire early if they can afford it Eh...

Carl Bellinger bcarlb at comcast.net
Thu Jun 12 09:46:05 EDT 2008

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 5:05 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Why teachers retire early if they can afford it

> Eh...
. . . .
> I assume you believe someone somewhere has to teach us to read and
> write, how to do it correctly, and then well, and to give us
> sufficient examples of good writing so that we know what to model.  I
> agree with you that this does not have to happen in the classroom.
> >

"...and THEN write well?" Jim? Don't you have to learn to write well 
*before* you learn to write correctly? I have the impression [I hope a wrong 
one] that the majority of high school kids "hate English" and that this is 
because the emphasis on correctness trumps any engagement with the winsome 
and magnificent attractions of literary art.

And anyway, doesn't writing "correctly" require no different a kind of 
learning as, in math, to correctly set out the, to me, strange symbols of an 
equation or correctly demonstrate a proof? Need the 'correctly' of "English 
class" even be taught in the same room or by the same person who would teach 
us how to Read literature [and for this process surely the Fishian doctrine 
must prevail], and then how to write a deft, engaging prose?

How much of the strength of English for expression derives from stuff 
written before the 18th C.? Go far enough back in European lit. and you find 
_scriptio continua_ [!! punctuation not allowed, among other things], and at 
the same time the social ideal of "the most eloquent man."

How was rhetoric [I follow, crudely, C.S.Lewis here:] for two or three 
millennia embraced as, in Dante's phrase, "the sweetest of all the other 

Could a single sentence from the pen of Sh escape the whipping of the High 
School English teacher? How would Milton fare in the grammar lab? Speak! Who 
is the victim, who the conqueror?


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