Last night I spent an hour or so reading my favourite blogs on my I-pad, adding the occasional comment, while sleepily watching tv at the same time. This morning, I noticed that there are quite a few typo and spelling errors in these comments and, in one of them, I have muddled my homophones using 'to' instead of 'too'. Somewhat ironic, since I spent quite a lot of time on Friday afternoon telling students about the importance of proof-reading their work to avoid errors just like this.
Looking back over my previous blog posts I can see other errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar (or SPaG as the exam boards call it) and am aware that I am setting myself up for criticism. How can I, as an English teacher, publish writing which contains errors? Shouldn't I be ashamed of myself? I've been asking myself these questions recently. Perhaps I shouldn't blog at all, when I don't have time to construct careful sentences or proofread properly. And I compare myself to other bloggers: two of my favourites write flawlessly, despite having English as an additional language. Why can't I manage this?
Before half term our Year 10 students, including my daughter, completed something called the Spoken Language Unit for their GCSE. Their task was to produce an essay in which they analysed examples of their own use of digital communication and considered whether they were similar to spoken language. This meant collecting examples of their texts, Snapchats or other messages and commenting on them. A pointless, time-wasting activity in my opinion: I am not sorry this particular part of the English Language GCSE has been dumped in the latest rewrite. However what emerged was quite interesting. My daughter and her friends use a whole range of techniques to make their 'chats' similar to spoken language: repeated !!! or ???, capital letters to suggest tone of voice and emojis to suggest gesture and facial expression. She doesn't worry about sentence punctuation much but does make an effort to use the apostrophe distinguish between words like 'your' and 'you're'. The important thing for her is communicating and the speed at which she does so astounds me: she can type accurately on the tiny I-phone keypad without looking.
And so, like her, that's what I've decided to do: focus on communication. So forgive me, dear readers, for the occasional error. This blog is a record my thoughts and experiences: it is not perfectly crafted prose. Blogger allows me to share these thoughts and experiences with others who can respond, if they wish, just as I can respond to their writing. I love being able to do this. As E.M Forster said in his preface to Howard's End: 'only connect.' That's what matters.