Friday, September 30, 2011

LTW Journal 9/29 (Addendum)

(Part of an ongoing series detailing our Lost Tools of Writing adventures.  Previous posts here.)

Update:  Grammar Girl to the rescue with a down-to-earth article on parallel construction!  I knew I was making it harder than it was.  Grammar Girl rocks.

I am getting in a little practice myself before my next teaching attempt.  I thought I would try again with the original thesis and proofs:

Boromir was not a fit Ringbearer
Frodo was a fit Ringbearer
Wise authorities chose Frodo

First I need to fix that last proof so it lines up properly.  Grammar Girl quoted Sesame street: "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong..."  I got confused looking at these sentences, but Aravis happened to be nearby.  She is insanely good at grammar.  This illustrates both a curse and blessing of homeschooling.

The curse is not knowing enough on some subjects to "be the teacher".  Often, the homeschooling mother ends up learning along with her students.  (When I taught Aravis grammar, the answer key was my best friend.)  The blessing is that by a certain age their affinities emerge and, never having had their enthusiasm quashed by institutionalized competition*, they begin passionate independent studies.  Eventually, they are able to help younger siblings in ways the mother never could.  Along the way the younger sibs embrace their own affinities and *they* start passionate independent studies.  Life becomes a joyous celebration of all the things God placed in the world for us to know.  I love learning.

Anyway, Aravis patiently explained that the first two sentences contain predicate nominatives-- a predicate that renames the subject.  The third sentence does not.  We either have to rename the wise authorities, or make Frodo the subject and rename him, or add Boromir as the subject and rename him.

(I should probably have Aravis teach the Elocution portion each time.)

Wise authorities were fit choosers.  (yuck)
Wise authorities were fit judges.  (hmm)
According to authorities, Boromir was a  bad choice. (complicated)
Boromir was a bad choice.  (too similar to first proof)

Or maybe we could take the predicate nominatives out of the other two sentences:

Boromir had bad qualities
Frodo had good qualities
Frodo had the confidence of the Council and Fellowship

It still seems like the subjects ought to be the same.  Otherwise, how to line them up in a sentence?

Boromir should not have tried to take the Ring from Frodo for three reasons.  Boromir had bad qualities, Frodo had good qualities, and Frodo had the confidence of the Council and Fellowship.

I don't know.  It still looks complicated.  If we could change the subject of #1 to Frodo, it might work.  But that first point is important, and Frodo has nothing to do with Boromir's bad qualities.

Still thinking...

*I am not against competition per se.  I think it is a useful tool in the learning toolbox.  However, I believe it is wrong to apply it arbitrarily across a system.


CAB said...

Um...good morning? LOL. What grade level is this for, btw?

Boromir should not have tried to take the Ring from Frodo for three reasons. Boromir had bad qualities, Frodo had good qualities, and Frodo had the confidence of the Council and Fellowship.

If this was logic, this doesn't quite make sense to me. If the premise is Boromir should not have tried...for 3 reasons...1 of which was that he had bad qualities...that doesn't jive w/me, but then it's only 8 a.m. and I don't recall ever hearing of parallel construction. Is this "New Grammar"? ;)

Katie said...

Hee hee. Now you see my quandary, Catherine. We are still trying to figure out the logic of this thing. I agree that "Boromir had bad qualities" doesn't exactly fit. We will go 'back to the drawing board' on Monday, lol! We explored parallelism together yesterday, but ended in a bit of confusion.

I am using Lost Tools of Writing with my 8th and 11th graders, btw. Cornflower is not involved, although I am planning to have her listen in when we start the next essay cycle.

Parallel construction is making the phrases alike grammatically. In this example, the grammar is noun/verb/adjective/noun. But we are still working it out.

I have a series of posts entitled "LTW Journal" followed by the date which detail the evolution of this sad little essay. ;o) If you would like to read them, you can search for LTW in the field at the upper left corner of the screen. It will pull up all the posts. Start at the bottom and work your way up to go from earliest to latest.

Katie said...

"Boromir was not a fit Ringbearer" does fit, though. "Boromir had bad qualities" changes the meaning just enough to mess up the logic.

I really hope I can make sense of this before Monday!! :D

Katie said...

And, of course, we are leaving out the moral question, which is whether the use of force was at all warranted.

CAB said...

Hmm, maybe after a few more cups of coffee I'll run that search ;) For now, going back to 5th grade :D I like Boromir and Faramir...all those "mirs" - LOL.

Andrew Kern said...

HI Katie,

I stumbled across this through our blog stats page and hope you don't mind if I jump in.

It's a great pleasure watching your mind work through all this. That's half the joy of teaching and learning, isn't it! And you are seeing far more than is essential, which makes it even more exciting.

I would encourage you, in this early lesson, to be a little more easily satisfied. LTW is trying to make it very simple for the student who is new to these things, so a lot of the higher order judgment questions you are asking aren't necessary yet.

In other words, if you start with the same basic grammatical structure, that's all you need to worry about. For example, you don't need the same subject (e.g. Frodo) each time. Just have the subject first in every phrase. If the verb is second, keep it there.

The confusion you are experiencing arises from the fact that you know more grammar than most people, so you want it to be even better than it needs to be! This is more like sit ups than dance moves.

I hope that relieves some of your burden. Those other matters will come out over time quite naturally.

Blessings on your teaching!!


Katie said...

Thanks so much, Andrew! Yesterday, my older daughter and I wondered whether we were overthinking this. (The difference being that she has been enjoying it and I have not.) Your comments confirm it. I really appreciate your help.

Katie said...

Well, okay, I *have* been enjoying the process-- just not the feeling that i am in over my head.