A “Joke”, Some Bad Grammar and Changing the World

At Melonaid I tried to keep my post light and humorous. However, let me get deep for a sec if you guys don’t mind. Don’t worry I am working on my next post and its funny. But I think it is important to tell this story.

I am a History major. As a result, most of the time I am either reading or writing. This is problematic for me a little because I like to do everything but read and write. However I love history so much because I love hearing stories about people who came before me. Plus I get to write interesting papers. For my junior writing seminar, my paper was about the History of Music at Ballparks and how teams needed to use music to keep people focused on the game. Interesting right? I interviewed several people at the Philadelphia Phillies and at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I was writing 10+ pages of baseball and music (all things that I liked) while my friends in other majors were writing business papers. Yuk!

I am an ideals man but sometimes it is hard to get my ideas from my head to paper. For most people it is an easy process (head to paper). But for me its like trying to catch an idea that is swarming in my head, translate it from Matt language to “Proper English Language” and then onto paper. Along the way, there are a lot of grammar issues that come up and sometimes words are missing.

For example,

My name is Matt. are you today?

I am not doing it on purpose! I just never understood the “rules of English writing.”  Or I am so caught up trying to translate my ideas to words that I forget.

It reminds me of a professor I have taken a few classes with. He uses art from the era to discuss how to it represented the place and/or time period. I like this format because I can make a good insight and it tends to be spot on. So when he assigned a short written response one semester I thought great I can just write my really good insights and hand them in

I would hand in a clear paper only to be handed it back with black lines underlined , question marks everywhere ???????. It looked like a modern art piece with all the lines and such.

I went to this professor because if you could not tell black lines are bad. I worked with him on my papers and more black lines would be draw. He was like Matt this needs to be plural and vise versa. And, this sentence cannot be 3 lines long!

He told me that, “Matt your ideas are great but your grammar makes it hard to understand.” I think he saw that I had a grasp of the complexity of the topic but it was overshadowed by my bad grammar.


However I did not give up. I would go to him before every paper and he would help edit it for me and I would revise it and have my mom and others read it to fix any other mistakes. At the end of the class last spring, he told me that he wished more people cared about the papers as I did. I cared but I worked hard to be understood. For as long as a remember people have had a hard time understanding what I was saying and doing because of my speech impairment and dyslexia. I felt like I had the answer to life but nobody could understand what I was saying. I don’t stop writing or talking until my point gets across. As the class progressed my papers improved and improved.

So this week I am in a class with this professor again and he assigns a paper response. I finished the book a week earlier (I know crazy) so that I could have plenty of time writing and editing my paper. I went to his office hours to ask a few questions about the paper like before and continued to edit. On Wednesday, several students had questions about the paper that was due on Friday. One person asked about using personal insights using I or we. The professor said that wanted us to make sure that the grammar was perfect and that there is no I, we and right tense etc. Then out of nowhere he made a “joke”, “and Matt should know because he has been a victim of this several times.”

A Joke? … it did not feel that way. Because hey I know I am horrible with Grammar that is why I put in all that extra time to work on it. But that does not give my Professor or anyone the right to “make a joke” about it. It felt like I was being used as what not to do. What not to do? What work hard, have several people look at your paper etc.? That tends to be overshadowed by a different verb tense of what have you.

I was beat up by the “joke” during the rest of the day. I was just angry that someone I respected would make a joke like that. I decided that I needed to stand up for myself and to tell my professor how much the “joke” affected me. So on Friday I went to see him during his office hours.

I sat down and said that I was really hurt by the joke you made about my grammar. And he could tell from my eyes how hurt it affected me. And he felt horrible about it. He apologized several times and he should have acted more professional before making comments like that. He also said that he did not mean it to hurt me etc.

I accepted his apology.

As I walked outside I realized that people do not know sometimes the weight of their comments. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for yourself and tell someone that what they said is wrong. But if you don’t do it then they would never know.  You have to advocate for yourself because change only comes when you make the first move.

I know my writing is not up to par. But I keep writing. Writing is like fighting a dragon constantly. I remind myself that it takes a lot of grit and will power to constantly fight this dragon. I think if “normal” people had to go through  it they would just stop writing. But for people with LD, we trudge on because our greatest weakness only makes us stronger. I may never be good with grammar, but I and many others have the ideas to change the world.

Would you like to listen to them?



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