Abe brought this test home from school the other day.  Now please believe that I always try not to be crochety about spelling (no correlation between that and intelligence, etc. etc., as Mr. Rutter always pointed out) and I really do understand that we all make stupid writing mistakes sometimes (especially when working fast---trying to get through lots of papers---etc.).  I've never wanted to be the all-knowing grammar snob (at least not openly), because I've got enough flaws/blind spots of my own, and I try to remember that.  But . . . "YOUR so smart"??  And this isn't the first time I've seen his teacher make that particular mistake.  As well as their/they're.  And it just makes me a tiny bit sad, because these are not really difficult concepts, right?  Contractions vs. possessives?  Certainly not un-learnable, with a bit of effort.  And they're things I'd really like Abe to have a grasp of.  But how will he if even his teachers don't?  And WHY don't his teachers?  They have college degrees, they're smart and capable.  So . . . why?  Of course I wouldn't say anything about it to the teacher.  But I'm silently (not so silently now, I guess) disappointed.


  1. maybe you could jot down "YOUR not so smart, teacher" and send the test back. Yeah, I'm with you. Your/you're and their/they're aren't hard ones. It's/its is a bit trickier, but I sing a song to help me remember.

    Maybe you could subtly say something at parent teacher conference not to the teacher, but so she can hear. Something like: "Wow, Abey, you're getting so smart, you probably know all about contractions... like you're and they're..."

  2. Ha ha! Yeah, that's a bit disappointing. Thanks for the laugh.

  3. I want to side with the teacher. I really do. But I just can't if you've seen her make this mistake more than once. I'm comforted when I remind myself that she probably has other strengths, and she will be only one of many teachers Abe will have. I'm sure another one of them (or you) will be able to show him the ins and outs of contractions.

    Weirdly, my first thought when I saw her remark was not about the error but about the content. It reminded me of this article called The Inverse Power of Praise. It's long, but I think an interesting perspective to consider.

  4. That drives me crazy too! I agree--it's because it's such a little, simple thing that _could_ be learned with effort . . . Along with subject/verb agreement:
    "There's lots of people in here," and "There is mountains nearby" . . . . I always give my good husband a hard time about that. My brother (Abraham, coincidentally) sadly thinks that because these little mistakes are so widespread, eventually they'll become the new norm and considered correct. But I don't think I will ever be able to stumble on them without cringing. I'd better edit my comment here, now that I've been so critical . . . :)

  5. Ummm, teaching, though. If she doesn't know this, what else doesn't she know. Could she be teaching that Walt Disney discovered America? Or that the US is a continent? Or that America is just the US? Or that cheese only comes from cows? Or that Pluto is still a planet?

    And I'm with Melissa about the praise. Wouldn't have done it that way, myself. For one thing, it sounds almost obsequious, which is dangerous - a subtle blow to the respect student should have for the adult. "Well done," might have been stronger and safer. Though he is smart, your kid, if he's anything like his folks.

    Yeah, it would have bothered me, too.

  6. I really didn't know where/when to put an apostrophe in your/you're until you made fun of a misspelled flyer you had at your house. I don't think it was ever explicitly taught to me outside of second grade.

  7. Oy, oy. What is there to say about that? Maybe this:
    You're Abey is so smart.

    Hee hee

  8. Oh, I am so sad. How does one respectfully point out to a teacher that she really needs to learn rudimentary language skills? Especially since the mistake was made on a vocabulary test.

  9. Here I was, wondering if she spelled "Alps" wrong on the spelling test or something, and then I figured it out. "Duh, Pam!" Maybe the teacher just had a "Pam-day."


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