Southerners

Archived Story

Write Again … A wonderful world of words

Published 8:58pm Monday, September 9, 2013

Taking into account that I spent my last seven years with the Dare County schools in the central office, it must be well on to 30 years now since last I taught high school English.

Now, that seems hard to believe, but as one becomes increasingly “age advanced,” the years fly by faster and faster.  Most of you, kind reader friends, likely know quite well whereof I speak (or write).

There was a little ritual I introduced to my students that became an everyday requirement. The originality of it probably wasn’t mine. That’s not really the point.

When each student came into the classroom he or she went straight to the designated “word repository” shelf and picked up his or her recipe box.

You know, those little metal boxes that can hold 3×5 cards.

On the board each day I would write a word and its definition. Each Friday, we’d have a little quiz on the week’s words. That’s five new words and definitions each week. That’s 180 words a year.

The students, almost every one of them, took this endeavor seriously, and really seemed to enjoy this two- to three-minute exercise to begin each class. We would use the word of the day in a sentence.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this experience took place a long time ago. Do those former students remember, use, all, some, or just a few of the words they encountered? 

Did some, like I, develop a genuine propensity for using such terminological exactitudes? Wordsmithing.

Did they learn the sheer enjoyment of occasionally using polysyllabic verdundage?

More practically, did learning new words help them in their reading, writing, and speaking abilities?

I surely hope so.

I also hope that, unlike their old teacher, they didn’t become overly loquacious, annoyingly bombastic, with a penchant for persiflage.

That would not engender a salutary effect on their personal relationships, would it?           

APROPOS — “Words should be an intense pleasure just as leather should be to a shoemaker.” — Evelyn Waugh

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