Evil English Teacher Alphabet Soup
By Sara Codair
Evil English teachers. Grammar Nazis. Every school has them. If you yourself are an teacher, you probably know exactly which of your colleagues cringe at the tiniest of errors, covering their student papers in blood-red ink. Whether you are a teacher or not, it is likely that you encountered one of these people at some point in your life.
This soup was inspired by the teachers who make students so worried about where to put commas that they forget to think, creating essays that are pretty but shallow. This soup is to raise awareness of the teachers who send students away in tears – students who wrote brilliant essays but lost thirty points for misplaced comma’s, improperly conjugated verbs and informal language. This soup like looks like words drowned in red ink. It tastes as beautiful as the writing would have been if that red tide had not drown it before it learned to swim.
Correct grammar is important, but it is not everything. Students who didn’t learn grammar in middle school and students who are not native speakers of English will not master English grammar in one semester. Sure, there may be a handful of students who benefit from the strict, Grammar Nazi style class, but most panic, get too stressed and give up when confronted with that kind of teacher, or they over rely on tutors to help them get through the class while vowing to never speak to that instructor again once the semester is over.
If you worry about grammar on first and second drafts, your ideas won’t be fully developed simply because you cannot devote your full attention to ideas if you are stressing about grammar. Whenever I find myself editing prematurely, I wind up stuck on how to finish a piece or where to take. When I wait until the third or fourth draft, my ideas are fully developed and I can put all my attention to cleaning the piece up and making it beautiful. So why subject students to standards even professional writers cannot hold themselves to? Students don’t have time for the kind of editing we do before publishing something. I’m not saying we shouldn’t teach grammar at all. I’m just saying we shouldn’t drown students with it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Half of a large yellow onion or one small onion
- Half of a large bell pepper (red, orange or yellow)
- ¼ lb of ground beef (substitute with extra veggies for a vegetarian option)
- 2 small carrots or one large carrot
- 1 stick of celery
- half a zucchini
- seven cherry tomatoes (preferably sungolds)
- a few sprinkles of dried thyme (or fresh equivalent)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or fresh equivalent)
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano (or fresh equivalent)
- ½ can of tomato paste
- 1 box chicken broth (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
- ½ cup of alphabet pasta
Step 1: Put two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium or large saucepan.
Step 2: Dice the peppers and onions then add them to the pan. Let begin them cook while you defrost the beef in the microwave.
Step 3: Add the beef to the pan, constantly stirring and breaking up as it cooks. I prefer small pieces of meat, so I will keep chopping with a wooden spatula until it is thoroughly broken up.
Step 4: Cut up the carrots, celery and zucchini, adding each as it is ready to cut. For this soup, I like to the leave the carrots round and cut the zucchini into tiny rectangles. Cut and add the tomatoes once all the other vegetables are in.
Step 5: Measure and add Thyme, Basil and Oregano. I used dried this time around, but prefer to use fresh when it is available.
Step 6: Add the tomato paste, stirring until the meat and vegetables are as coated as possible.
Step 7: Add the chicken broth, stirring until all the past has dissolved and turned the broth red.
Step 8: Bring the soup to a boil and add the alphabet pasta. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for at least one hour before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
If you are a teacher, please use your correcting pen cautiously. Focus on one issue at a time. Give mini lessons on grammar before students do a peer review in class. Don’t spill the soup on your papers.