Mrs. Wayward Pennington, a fifth grade language arts teacher at Sycamore Middle School in Goshen, is a stickler for excellent punctuation and grammar and expects the utmost from her students. She has a reputation around the community for being extremely strict when it comes to learning and practicing proper English. Students in her class know that if they do not speak or write with proper English or punctuation, they are very likely going to be reprimanded in front of the entire class and possibly the school.
Mrs. Pennington set a new precedent for herself, however, when she confiscated fifth-grader Tracey Art’s cellular phone and began a barrage of verbal attacks upon the girl. Tracey was caught sending a text message during class, an offense that Mrs. Pennington often overlooks. Unfortunately for Tracey, however, she had been writing in offhand, sloppy text format, and Mrs. Pennington was appalled.
“She had absolutely no capitalization or proper punctuation. She had put ellipses in inappropriate places and included short hand abbreviations that made her communication ineffective and hard to understand to the general population. Additionally, she left out almost all of her vowels, making the words seem little more than jibberish. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” explains Mrs. Pennington. She adds, “Technology is no excuse for laziness. From now on, I will be monitoring all forms of communication that my students attempt, whether it be a text message, an instant message, a message in a bottle, a physical message or a psychic message. Whatever it is, it had better have proper formatting.”
Tracey, the student who was the first of what will likely be a slew of students reprimanded for her communication style, remains almost speechless. Though she looks around with sad eyes, she has an overwhelming fear of communicating with the outside world because of her traumatic experience. She simply stated, “I am sorry for what I have done. Or is it that which I have done? Or the thing that I have done? Or is it appropriate and casual enough to create contractions here? I don’t know! I just don’t know!”
Hopefully, Mrs. Pennington and Tracey can find a middle ground.