Falling Leaves and Falling Standards

First the leaves.
All taken on my morning walk today.

Now for the standards.

Grammar and punctuation. I like it to be correct. 
I realise our language is continually evolving and I take delight at new words and new ways of using them (although I can do without 'nommy').
 However, when someone on television (Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing springs to mind) says was when they mean were I wince. It causes me physical pain. Now, I can forgive Alesha, she's an entertainer not an educator. But when my daughter's teacher said to her yesterday at parents' evening; 'You was a bit worried about your maths wasn't you?' I died a little inside.



  1. Seriously!? A teacher! I'm not grammatically great... but 'was' is a pet hate of mine, it makes people sound so, so, so stupid.

  2. OMG - please tell me someone said something??!! I can't believe it!! Reading that, I died a little inside too...!

  3. Anonymous1:06 pm GMT

    Sorry but I don't care who they are, famous or not - there's no excuse for bad grammar. It's just ignorance as far as I'm concerned and as for that teacher I'd have corrected her myself. My daughter has a horrible habit of saying "ain't" and every time she says it she gets a "pardon?" from me until she says it correctly. Apostrophes being used incorrectly is another bugbear of mine - really irritates me as does excessive use of capitals and exclamation marks. Why do people feel the need to use about thirty or so exclamation marks at the end of a sentence to highlight that they are excited/angry/whatever it is about something? One or two will suffice!

  4. Sue, I am just like you - I am a total grammar nut (and, yes, I'm a primary school teacher) and it drives me CRAZY when people use grammar and punctuation incorrectly. I even send emails to websites when I find errors on their web-pages! I died a little bit inside, too, when I read what that teacher said to your daughter! Oh dear, oh dear, is there anything any of us can do?

  5. I get annoyed when I get letters from the teachers and they are covered in mistakes. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to be a whizz at spellings or grammar, but I do expect the teachers to know better. Yes standards are falling.

    I liked the photos of your falling leaves, I do so enjoy Autumn colours :-)

  6. Alesha Dixon's poor speech and grammar irritate me so much that I want her to be removed from the panel!

    So many people seem to have little grasp on the basics or spelling, punctation and grammar ad how disgraceful for a teacher to speak so poorly! I would have made a complaint!

    Some lovely photos in the post too!

  7. oh dear, I have just let myself in the comment above - typing hastily and not concentrating. Ooops!

  8. First of all... fabulous pictures. I don't think it's just me who thinks the Autumn colours are something really special this year.

    Secondly... I can't claim to have great grammar, but, coming from a teacher, that is awful. My pet hate is people saying 'of' when they mean 'have'.

  9. I'm another grammar freak - a teacher really should know better. Did you have a strong urge to correct her?

  10. Eeeeek... now being an English teacher I can honestly say that I am NOT a purist when it comes to language but THAT is just awful. x

  11. I did have a very strong urge to correct her, but I didn't want to embarrass her, she's a very nice lady and my daughter likes her a lot. I also didn't want my daughter to hear me criticising her teacher although we did talk about it later. I wish I could say something but I'm just too embarrassed.

    It isn't the first time something like this has happened. I had to correct a teacher's continued mispelling of practise on my children's school reports.

  12. Dear o dear what is the world coming too, i would have corrected her...i am a purist when it comes to the written word and also whilst speaking...i have been called a snob for pronouncing things correctly..also i did correct a report from an english teacher who replied "would i like her job when i'm qualified to tell her how to spell" , i had to laugh at that too as she spelt qualified wrong..autumn colours are so gorgeous and each one is indidvidual to the tree,bush etc..
    take care

  13. Sue aka snoozer2:54 pm GMT

    I'm another who hates this. I shout at Alesha every time.

    Did you see the Gareth Malone programmes on teaching boys. The Headteacher of the school concerned said was instead of were quite often. It made me cringe.

    My children were often told they were "posh" by their peers, although they weren't they just spoke grammatically (after much reminding). Even at work once my son was told he was posh and replied by saying "I think you're confusing posh with well educated."

  14. Unfortunately the same thing is happening here in France. Nobody seems to be able to write or speak correctly, even the journalists or some teachers ! It is really sad and seeing how important education is to political leaders in Europe, I think there is much to worry about !!

  15. I agree with you. It is awful here in the USA too. We have caps set on our TV and whenever anyone say "I want" they print "I wanna". It drives me crazy. I wish teachers would get back to the "basics" of reading, writing and arithmetic and leave their personal view points out of teaching. And stop trying to entertain kids rather than teach. Even our stupid President keeps saying "you guys" all the time.

  16. Oooh, Simon Cowell when he say's 'somethink'.
    I could strangle him, this is on rare occasion that I watch X factor of course!

    Lovely walking through falling leaves isn't it, such beautiful colours... x

  17. You have touched a nerve. I say 'aitch' when I spell aloud over the 'phone and am now being corrected by people who ask me if I mean 'haitch'. The majority probably do, should I just give up? Also wish people could grasp that 'it's' with an apostrophe means that there is a missing 'i' and 'its' is just a neuter possessive pronoun for when you don't know the gender of the object you're referring to (his/ her).

  18. This happened at our parents' evening too.
    Now I know this is really really bad and I only found out about this after he'd done it but....... my son (then 16) gave in an essay with loads of spelling errors. His teacher who is notorious for dreadful spelling said, "Whatever happened, you are usually excellent at spelling - even I found five errors"
    "I made 8, Miss" he said. He chose the right teacher - she just thought it was funny?????
    When I asked him at home why he'd done it he said he thought it'd be a laugh - adding why should he bother all the time; when his teacher asks him how to spell words? Isn't that awful?
    Another teacher admitted last parents' evening that she gets him to lead a Countdown session with the form "Cos I'm just awful at maths". I cringed.

  19. Grammar...it was a huge issue in my house growing up since my Dad was a fanatic about it. Later on in life he told me how it was difficult for him to swallow but he learned that many words that seep into our everyday language as slang eventually become valid. That is so true. The one that kills me is using "seen" instead of saw. I actually heard someone in a courtroom say, "I seen it with my own eyes".

  20. Done instead of did.
    Could of instead of could have.
    Your instead of you're.
    It's instead of its.
    Its instead of it's.
    Less instead of few.
    Unecessary apostrophes.
    No apostrophes.

    I could go on.And on.

  21. Less and fewer. How did I miss that in my roll call of misuses? Few/ fewer if you can count them, less if you can't.

  22. Waitrose has signs that say '10 items or fewer'. Waitrose rocks! As the young people say.

  23. My hearty sympathies ~ I had a similar experience when a teacher sent home a note welcoming my child to her classroom which had a misspelling of a key word. *teeth grinding together*

  24. Oh no - that is just soooo wrong. I hope you corrected her?

    Love you burst of autumnal colours - very warming indeed.

    Nina xxx

  25. Love the autumn pictures. You've really started something with this post! I have to say it really makes me cringe when I hear things like this. Haven't plucked up the courage to correct anyone though.

  26. Anonymous10:51 pm GMT

    People in everyday life never bother me in the slightest with the grammar they use. No one has perfect grammar in my view. Everyone makes mistakes at times. Also, we learn grammar from those around us - if our parents use good grammar and our friends too, then we might learn good habits. If our examples are incorrect, then children - who copy their examples will be wrong too. How you speak is not symbolic of what you know and is not in my view a sign of stupidity or lack of intelligence. There are actually people who are completely inarticulate verbally and yet have extremely high IQs. How can you learn what no one tells you and this is of course the teachers job, at least in part. I do believe teachers are not as influential as parents and peers, as children copy from those they hear most. Nevertheless, they could indeed help inculcate better grammar. It does annoy me when teachers apparently do not know the language well enough to teach it. In primary school all teachers teach English so I do perceive this as a problem. It's a problem because it helps to perpetuate the 'them' and 'us' and no matter how bright a person is, unfortunately they will be judged on how they speak. If we want equality in schools then we have to have teaching staff up to the job! The reasons they do not have good grammar themselves is that they also had poor examples or/and were not taught well and so it goes on. Perhaps grammar should be included in teacher training. I try not to be too critical because we all have things that we do that annoy others - it's just part of being a human being. We all um, and you know and basically sometimes. People are also very rude about pronunciation. I don't care if someone says aitch or haitch, it's just a variable. My way is not always the correct way and yours is not always the incorrect way. Perhaps the only reason spellings were standardised was in order to differentiate those who had a better education from others. Otherwise why does it honestly matter as long as the written word is understood? Perhaps it is just a manufactured way to feel superior. When you consider we don't all have the same education and chances in life, I would suggest that poor grammar etc just shows that and nothing else. If education and life chances were equal, then it might suggest laziness or stupidity. As it stands I think it just reflects inequality.

  27. Oh dear, I feel a bit funny inside after reading all those comments!!!!!
    SUE!!!!! (I'm sorry for all the exclamation marks which may annoy Ruth Marie but i just can't help it and if you knew me you would understand my use of so many, and why not? It's fun to be excited!)
    I hope that my pumpkin seed post made you laugh and that you didn't think I were dissing your recipe... (did you just 'get' that gram. joke?) I found it a funny experience and when I had washed them I returned to visit your post and examine you seeds and I wondered then if UK pumpkins are different from NZ pumpkins as my pumpkin was particularly orange and the seeds were too! yours were quite pale. Plus, I cook pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds in my frying pan, just plain with no oil for salads and they always pop then too, it's how I know they're cooked! I loved having a go at your recipe and thank you for sharing! I hope lots of people visited for your recipe ideas.... have a lovely day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (another joke) :oD

  28. Oh Sue I cringe sometimes at seen instead of saw and a few other ones. I dislike it when my kids say take instead of bring. I keep telling them 'You take something somewhere and you bring something home' But in America it is the normal way of saying it, so go figure, what is right and what is not.
    xx Sandi
    Love the photos too.

  29. My daughter is currently having 'catch up' literacy sessions, which means she has a 20 minute reading/writing session each day.

    These are being held on a one-to-one basis with a teaching assistant. No problem there, except the sentences she is given to practice at home are often incorrectly structured, poorly punctuated and often have at least one spelling error. These are hand-written by the Teaching Assistant and then cut up so that DD puts the sentence together at home.

    Drives me mad!

  30. Oh boy, I would have died a little inside too and most defnitely have discussed htis further with my daughter at home.
    On eof my pet hates is when people say them instead of those ...grrrrr it drives me potty, but then again I come from adifferent culture where "ja" is colloquial and not posh ! xxx

  31. Could this be the answer?

  32. Pati from London2:01 pm GMT

    Hi Sue, I know exactly what you mean about the grammar! I'm Spanish and when I was little they taught us Spanish grammar in school, which was increadibly useful to know the intricacies of our language and avoid silly mistakes. I believe they don't teach the English language in schools here and think that it might be a reason why so many people make mistakes.
    I love your autumn leaves... what a wonderful season this is, isn't it? x Pati from London

  33. Oh I am right there with you. When I hear Alesha on Strictly it makes my toes curl. Do these people just not hear it, do they think it's OK to talk like that? I'm a Geordie by birth and in Newcastle grammar seems to go to hell in a handbasket too - and I hate it. I know it isn't PC (at all) to say this, but it just makes people sound, well, a little bit thick!

  34. Anonymous10:19 am GMT

    Unbelievable. I thought you were talking about the conditional (If only I were...) until I saw that last sentence, and I agreed with you, as all grammar freaks would. I don't watch Strictly so Alesha is off my radar. When I realsied what you meant my shoulders sank. Sigh. It's such a shame when the people we entrust our children to - the people they listen to more because a teacher MUST know more than mum - are at a level below the children they are attempting to teach.

  35. Anonymous10:21 am GMT

    SP. See me. (sorry)

  36. One of the problems is that people seem to make no distinction between formal and informal language. Boy the Elder is never picked up on informal use of language in his schoolwork - the teachers seem to think it's quirky or characterrful. Both my boys get teased for being posh when actually they speak RP and are definitely not plummy. Accents are wonderful as they add richness and diversity to the spoken word, but it is perfectly possible to speak with an accent yet be grammatical and articulate.

    I am currently trying to move BTE out of a state school and into a grammar school. Because we are applying for a bursary he has to pass with top marks so I have been tutoring him every night myself. I have been crushed by the standard that his (OFTSTED rated 'excellent') school considers to be acceptable and I've had to pay for a tutor to bring him up to scratch in maths. The school says his maths is fine - his tutor says he hasn't even been taught the basics.

    BTE's school has recently commented on how much he has improved and he has won two awards for his work. This is because I am teaching him at home and I can't wait to tell them! (when he leaves, obviously...)

  37. Anonymous12:33 pm GMT

    I went with a friend to drop her child off at nursery a few weeks ago. There was a massive sign/banner saying 'What will we make today'. I could be wrong but shouldn't it say 'shall' instead of 'will'?

    For however many weeks I've been thinking about this and wondering if I'm some sort of odd bod because it annoyed me.

  38. Could be worse, at my daughter's school there was a sign on a door saying 'Will footballer's please take their boots off before coming in'.


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