Category Archives: Teaching

Found Sentences: Our Past and Present Future

Usually the student sentences which stand out for me are more than merely comical. I am also less interested in those errors which some see as comic, especially in terms of laughing at the student’s expense. I am much more … Continue reading

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Racist Rob and Corrupt Politicians

I’d only been teaching a few years when I had a student who was so racist that I was forced to confront several of his statements in class. As anyone knows who has dealt with such behaviour, this demands a … Continue reading

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Found Sentences: The Environmental Movement and Going Back to Green

When Cousin Nick wanted to make a documentary about me he wasn’t that impressed when he interviewed my friend Mento Wong. Mento was a biker friend of mine who’d spent his life railing against conformity and worked as an operator … Continue reading

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When Plagiarism Goes Wrong

One of the ways that students plagiarize, at least when they take material from online and attempt to incorporate it into their papers, is to run a thesaurus function—such as the synonym option in MSword—on certain words. They seldom trouble … Continue reading

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Sentences from Student Papers

Although student papers are not the gold mine that some websites suggest, with anti-pedantic-teacher rhetoric and unlikely yet comical meanings, they sometimes offer thoughtful analysis and clever observations. These are a delight for the instructor, but unfortunately—and perhaps this says … Continue reading

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Maybe the Algorithms are Working Against Us

Most news, internet search, and social media platforms have optimized their offerings to suit what their viewers most frequently choose to see. That makes sense in terms of ad dollars, for they want to have a targetable demographic, but as … Continue reading

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There, Their and They’re – What Word Choice Says about the Chooser

Many grammatical or diction errors are easily forgiven, especially in English as it is spoken in North America. Because the countries of North America, such as Canada and United States—and less so Mexico—are largely immigrant cultures, there is a lot … Continue reading

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The Flat Earth Experience

In his The Time Machine Weena tries to throw herself in the fire because she has never seen flames before. She doesn’t know that it will burn her and that she should exercise care. She is a figure of profound … Continue reading

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Serendipity and Other People’s Hard Work: Contributing to Intellectual Society

Many years ago, when I used to build computers from found parts, installing hard drives was much more of an ordeal. You needed to look up the serial number of the hard drive in a database—if you were lucky enough … Continue reading

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The Winter Solstice and Trying to Explain the Movement of the Sun

Many years ago I found myself trying to explain the movement of the sun during the winter to a class in Victoria, British Columbia, and ever since I have been struck by how cultural knowledge can be allowed or disallowed … Continue reading

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