Monthly Archives: July 2013

On constraints, or will you stop counting, please.

Second one in the series of Blogathon reposts, where I say an articulate NO to the tyranny of limits.
250 word count of the Blogathon order is strictly followed.

If you’re on Twitter you might have come across the following collocation: “the tyranny of 140 characters”. I have seen it used many times. I have been the victim of this tyranny not once. My claim of this post is that the tyranny of limits exists in English (as well as in other subjects) and it is manifested profoundly, especially in tests and their writing tasks.

“Answer the question. Write your answer in 100-120 words.”
“Comment on the statement. Write 200-250 words.”
“Express your opinion. Your essay should not exceed 180 words.”

Seriously? A word limit to my opinion? I remember at school I wrote compositions which were several pages long, and they still made the points clear, and I fulfilled the task.

I’ve seen students who don’t have much of an opinion. I’ve seen students who have a lot more to say that limits allow. In both cases, it’s a pressure. The word limit given to creative writing tasks is almost painful for me.

I understand the grounds for this tyranny. First of all, it’s easier to assess a piece of writing. Secondly, it brings order. At last, it forces the person to formulate thoughts clearly. I’m totally ok with these points. Yet…notice the connotations of these words – assess, order, force. Don’t feel too welcoming to me.

I’m law-abiding and obedient, so I will succumb and keep my posts here within the word limit. After all, this post is exactly 250 words and I made my point clear.

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A heartfelt teen cry, unabridged.

In these hot midsummer days I start a repost series on my blog. Back in February of this year I took part in Blogathon competition organized by the British Council. I blogged in small portions of 250 words every day (well, almost) and, to be honest, that required quite an effort from me, normally blogging on the spur of the moment. Unfortunately, in order to leave comments on those posts one has to be logged in in their system. Now I’ve decided to republish some of my Blogathon entries, those that I personally like best.

This one was actually written by one of my students, a teenager. Just see how much they actually care.

How teachers teach me at my school, why I don’t like it, how I’d like them to teach me.
Nowadays education at school is really bad, not because the programme is poor quality, but because teachers stopped working. I once saw how the teacher of IT put down a satisfactory mark in the register to the person who wasn’t even at school on that day! Some teachers just stopped teaching us their subjects and the students sit at these lessons doing nothing.
I don’t like it at all. If I was a little girl in a primary school I would think “Great!” But I’m not a little girl and I’m not in a primary school. I wonder what I’m going to take with me to my future life. Who will I be? And of course because of this I’d like to work at school, to really work at school, using brain.
Speaking of how I’d like my teachers to teach me, the first thing is: explain the topic and everyone must understand. If one person doesn’t understand – explain again. I want them to put down marks for work, not for attitude. I want them to help me to get ready for the exams, really help, not just pretend to help. I wish the teachers cared about our knowledge and not about how we dress. Jeans or trousers, it’s not important. What is in our brain, do we understand the subject or not, that is what is really important.

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