Hidden Heroes of Human Knowledge
The Fight for Seemingly Unimportant Details
More than 300 and a quarter million people in the world speak English. More than 100 countries speak English. On the rank of most commonly used languages, English stands at number three. Such a widely used language utilizes many small but important grammar details, often omitted for the sake of time or laziness. Join us on a road of discovery on how one educator, Mrs. Jodi Macauley, upholds these seemingly insignificant but actually very meaningful details even as people in her community disprove of her efforts, inspiring later generations in their linguistic habits as she defends tradition.
The Definition of a Hero
To some, heroes do not exist in this crazy, bustling world of ours. In a world where many people uphold ideals revolving around the concept of “every man for himself,” heroes seem to fade out and general solicitude wavers. To others, heroes are dramatized and exaggerated by societal norms such that most instances of heroes are but those saving the world mid-flight, breaking down doors to flaming buildings to rescue an elder, or even climbing a tree to bring down a stray cat. Nevertheless, in spite of the stereotypical ideas of a hero or even the denial of the existence of heroes, there is much more to a hero than what meets the eye. A hero is someone who is willing to maintain his/her stances and fight for his/her own beliefs, and moreso willing to defy the common expectations in order to support what he or she believes is right.
An Interview With My Hero
Luckily enough, I was able to reach out and interview my personal hero, Mrs. Jodi Macauley. In this excerpt of the interview, you will hear of tales of the hidden graces of being a teacher and the ultimate joys of educating the future. The full interview and transcript can be found on the bottom of the page.
Aristotle in His Tireless Pursuit of Knowledge
To undoubtedly many people, a hero is someone who is willing to maintain his/her stances and fight for their own beliefs, and more so willing to defy the common expectations in order to support what he or she believes is right. As one of the greatest thinkers and educators of human history, Aristotle is a true hero. Excelling in, but definitely not limited to, biology, astronomy, philosophy, and many more, he has laid the foundation for modern day science through his many published works. Aristotle shows that he is not only one of the greatest minds on Earth, but also a hero in his defense of his beliefs and willingness to stand out doing so.
Learn more about how one of the greatest minds on Earth demonstrate the qualities of a true hero.
The Science Behind Human Behavior
Humans are amazing creatures. They are born miniature versions of their relatives and grow to be their own person with their own ideas. Their thoughts and actions are governed by a singular group of tissue in their heads (i.e. brains), and all subsequent consequences can be traced back to the so called brain. How that brain functions can be determined by the how it is influenced by either genetics or later conditioning by environmental or behavioral impacts. Commonly referred to as “nature” and “nurture,” or genetic influences and environmental influences, for decades on end, scientists have debated which has the largest influence on child development. Many factors have to be taken into account to tip the scale of human biology. Nature and nurture have equal impact on child development through their interconnectedness and as shown by many studies conducted with siblings and identical twins.
A Quick Glimpse at the Oxford Comma
How to Use the Oxford Comma
She likes to eat pizza, ice cream, and chips.
He enjoys playing basketball, baseball, and soccer.
Brussel sprouts can be boiled, fried, or sautéd.
Above are correct uses of the Oxford Comma.
The American flag is red, white, and, blue.
Cod, trout and salmon are types of fish.
Orchestra instruments include but are not limited to violins violas and cellos.
Above are incorrect uses of the Oxford Comma.
Although small and easily overlooked, the Oxford Comma serves a surprising amount of purpose. Like the Ted Ed video mentioned, the Oxford Comma can alleviate confusion on the talents of “Bob,” who in the text, “Bring Bob, a DJ and a clown,” seemed to be the “DJ and clown,” but turns out to be just plain old Bob. Some may argue that in the case of “Bring Bob, a DJ, and a puppy,” the usage of the Oxford Comma may actually induce confusion as one may mistake Bob as the DJ. In these types of cases, one can simply reorder the elements to dissolve any befuddlement and maintain the usage of the Oxford Comma.
In brief, an Oxford Comma is used before the main conjunction of a series of elements (three or more). These main conjunctions include and, or, and nor.
At the end of the day, although the choice of whether or not to use the Oxford Comma lies entirely within your own hands, it is important to maintain the usage or non usage of it throughout an entire paper. Even so, hopefully you choose to preserve tradition and use it! :)
Neglected by Most of Society
I understand. Like my many cousins, I may be somewhat confusing and complicated. However, as the Oxford Comma, I am ignored and even openly despised and deliberately avoided by authors and educators. I am that second comma in “bacon, lettuce, and tomato,” between the second-to-last element of a series and the conjunction that ties it all together. I am that one annoying comma students hate because traditional teachers hammer them for forgetting about me. I am that one punctuation point that people debate about. I am the Oxford Comma.
I understand how people may not like me, but every so often, when I find someone that respects and utilizes me, I am ecstatic. I feel loved. But usually I am not in such high spirits. Usually I am unloved. Please use me and love me!
An Oxford Comma Sonnet
by me, following the iambic pentameter best to my abilities
With true, sincere, unmatched adoration,
I gaze afar at numerous members.
Afar beholds passionate attraction
For education, learning, and grammar.
I find extant questions no certain loss,
For all ideas reflect love of lore.
Regardless potent sonnet or just dross,
Enough idea, meaning, and much more.
Some stand with fury and enthusiasm
That I am unquestionably random.
For what profound ire I cannot fathom,
But I, with pride, forever stand handsome.
Dubbed “Oxford Comma,” that is indeed me.
Utilize me in literature, please!
Entire Interview with My Personal Hero
Who/What inspired you to become a teacher? A teacher of yours?
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher -- my whole life. I never really wanted to be a ballerina or all the other things little girls want to be. My aunt was a teacher, a P.E. teacher -- a little bit different from what I do -- but that was my first influence. I knew I wanted to be a writing teacher in fifth grade when Ms. Yonnoreli had us writing these compositions, creative compositions, every week, and I started to do really well on them and I just loved doing them. And then, in eighth grade, Mrs. Finlin -- she had the most beautiful red hair and I wanted to be just like her in every way including being an English teacher. And Mr. Medesto: he was my English teacher two years in high school and he taught me the importance of grammar, and it’s now deep in my heart, so that’s-- I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and nothing else.”
What is your goal of being a teacher?
“I love being a teacher because I love learning. And I love to get people to love learning so I feel like that’s kind of my goal, more so than teaching comma rules and sentence structure, though that’s important too. My goal is to show kids to love learning and model that and I get to learn too so that makes my job a lot of fun for me.”
Where do you draw inspiration from?
“Main inspiration on how I build my lessons is I try to make it fun for me, so I figure if I’m having fun, the kids are having fun, and I’m a strong believer in if you’re happy, you’re learning more and retaining more, and so I try and incorporate that, and I really try to think about, “Okay, I want kids to learn about this,” but then I think, “What are the kids doing?” I never want to be the one just up there talking, even though I like my voice very much.”
How do you keep on top of your workload?
“Time management is probably the hardest part of my job, because I don’t like to do anything halfway, I have to do it -- I’m a little bit of an overachiever -- and I feel like I have to do everything the best I can do for each student, and so it does take a lot of time. I try to get as much done during the school day as possible, but I take a lot of work home with me. When I first started teaching, that was easy. There was nobody home there, but now that I have a daughter, that’s been the hardest part. When she used to go to bed at seven o’clock, then I would grade after that. Now she’s a, you know, she stays up later than I do, as so trying to balance my time with my daughter and my family and working… It’s tough, and she just knows, when an essay comes in, she really won’t see me for about two weeks.”
How about stress?
“Managing stress is also a big part of the job, partly for myself because I put a lot of expectations on myself but also there’s a lot of expectations in this district to do things well, and lot of different parts of my job, probably the way I handle the stress the most is to laugh with other teachers. My colleagues are my biggest support system, and if I can laugh with them during the day then I can then most on and do what I need to do. So that’s a big one.”
Why are you adamant on maintaining traditional grammar?
“So one of the things that’s getting harder and harder with social media and all the technology is convincing kids that it’s important to learn traditional grammar, which I think is really important. Why is it important? Is it life or death? Absolutely not. But it might be the difference between you getting into the college you wanted to get into or getting the job you want. Unfortunately, people judge you by your communication skills, so in that way, what I’m teaching I think is really important and that's why I don’t back down because I know it’s going to help students.”
What is its effect on you?
“Sometimes it is difficult when you have an idea that others think is old-fashioned or not needed anymore. Now, it’s not only with just kids, but sometimes parents and other teachers think sometimes I’m a little extreme in my traditionalism, but it doesn’t bother me that they think that ‘cause I, I know that what I’m doing has a greater purpose. It’s not because a comma needs to be there, although the Oxford Comma should always be there, it’s because it’s truly going to help my students, so if I focus on why I am doing something, then it’s easy to keep doing it.”
What is your effect on others?
“The way that I hope I am affecting people, and I, I think I am, I’ve seen some good results, is affecting students not to be afraid of writing. A lot of kids come in hating writing -- it’s hard -- so hopefully they see the joy that I have in it, and it’s okay to make mistakes, and I kind of make a safe environment allowing people to learn, and so I hope when kids leave my class, they feel like learning is worth it, even if it is hard work.”
Do you have any general tips to success?
“The biggest tip for succeeding is to find something that you love and do it the best you can and not be afraid of the making mistakes and not beat yourself up about it, but if you really love it, it’s worth it to keep trying.”