I recently accepted a very part time position teaching a Senior Thesis Writing Course at a Christian charter high school here in Minneapolis. It begins in the fall. I have done a considerable amount of volunteer work affiliated with the school over the past year. With Real Eyes, my journalism background and sincere love for the students, the opportunity appears to be a mutual win for both myself and the school.
With that said, this past month I have been feverishly lesson planning. Mainly, because this baby will drop any second and I am told my summer months of free time will be shot with late night feedings, afternoon exhaustion… and more late night feedings and afternoon exhaustion. But I must admit, the feverish planning is also in part to the humbling reality that good writing, begins with good grammar. Teaching this course, is like asking Joe Mauer to recall how he first learned to hold a baseball and if he has any tips to share. Of course he can do it, but there is some serious memory traveling to take place. Somehow holding the ball has gotten lost amid RBIs and base running strategy.
That to say, I am literally steeped in middle school grammar textbooks at the moment.
It has been a very long while since I have viewed writing through the lens of sentence diagramming. My clients typically prefer I fix their clausal disagreements, and spare them the diagnosis of their symptoms. How many authors truly care about nominative pronouns and their relationship to adverbs and adjectives and the role they play in clausal agreement? As tedious, and daunting as the first 8 weeks of the course may be, it is impossible to get around the importance of the basics in producing good writing. Funny, how this truth of basics reigns transcendent in life as well.
Spiritually, I find nothing more refreshing, even stimulating in my walk with God, than remembering why Jesus came, why He died on the cross for me, what that means in terms of promises, and then basking in that. It overflows into all my outlook, all my hope. Like the Father from the film, My Fat Greek Wedding, who could tie all English words back to Greek origin, the basics bring us back to our roots, plant us deeper and grow us stronger. Now if I can just convince these 17 year olds to make that connection, I may just cultivate tomorrow’s next best authors.