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Friday Five: Staffroom comments guaranteed to wind up an English teacher

If you want to stay on friendly terms with the English department, it might be best to avoid the following...

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If you want to stay on friendly terms with the English department, it might be best to avoid the following...

They say that it’s the many contradictions in the English language that make it so hard to learn, so imagine how difficult it must be to teach. Spare a thought for the literature lover who became a teacher to share their love of language, only to end up explaining apostrophes for the millionth time this week. Or, you could just wind them up a bit more...  Here are five phrases that are guaranteed to irritate English teachers everywhere.

  1. “Wow, I've got a lot of marking to do!”  Is that so? English teachers could fashion an entire set of classroom furniture out of the stacks of essays they mark each week. The in-depth character studies of Macbeth are enough to create a decent-sized desk on their own.  
  2. “You'll know this, how do you spell…?” Let me guess, antidisestablishmentarianism? Not only can English teachers spell it, they also know its etymology and how to use it correctly in a sentence. But they won't waste their time telling you. They have marking to do.    
  3. “I hated doing Shakespeare when I was at school.”  As the great Bard himself once said, “There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.” So there.  
  4. “I've only got 12 kids to see at parents’ evening” Thanks to being a core subject, English teachers have to see every single parent at parents' evening. That’s why there’s a queue of parents winding its way around everyone else’s desks. Should they get a spare five minutes to themselves, you'll find them at their desk... marking.  
  5. “The only good poems are the ones that rhyme.”  Sigh.

Chris Powell was talking to Nicola Davison. He is a professional mentor, head of year and geography teacher at Parmiter's School, Hertfordshire, England

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