My 10th grade English class felt like Central Casting had sent up an old-fashioned schoolteacher. Her name was Miss Guill. (No one dared call her Ms.) All that year she tried heroically to hammer the rules of grammar through my thick skull. But I managed to fight her, successfully, at least I thought I did.
Oddly enough, since then I’ve found myself thinking back to her class more than to any other in high school. Teachers make a difference, and she made a big difference with me. Not because she taught me a few rules of grammar, but because she taught me to care about grammar, and even more importantly, to care about expressing myself clearly.
I’m never entirely successful at that, through no fault of hers, but I never stop trying. And when I think back to her class it’s always with a sense of regret that I didn’t pay closer attention, and learn more when I had the chance. Truth is, I wish I could remember half of what that stern woman tried so hard to teach me.
Over the years I’ve tried to read a number of books about grammar. I usually make it through the first chapter, and sometimes the next, before falling asleep. But I finally found a better way, or at least a way that works better for me.
We don’t always get a second chance in life, and I can never go back to Miss Guill’s classroom to find out all that I missed. But at least the Internet now provides an interesting way to relearn it.
Grammar Fundamentals, with Judy Steiner-Williams