Believing that teaching is supposed to be: well-versed and subject-centered, not political, brings me to columnist Catherine Rampbell’s, “Priceless Lessons from My Sixth-Grade English Teacher.” In the piece, she gives Mr. Greco “much of the credit (or, depending on your politics, blame) for any success I’ve had as a writer,” adding that repaying a teacher for such gifts is impossible…”

Rampbell then shares some of his wisely taught lessons:

** 1. “Learn all the rules of language, even the stodgy-seeming ones. You will find freedom in structure…”

“He once threatened to kick me out of class for asking, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me? (The final word should have been ‘I.’) Sometimes, when a student submitted an essay with too many errors, he ate it. That is: He chewed and swallowed the paper, comma splice by commas splice…”

** 2. “If you must break a grammatical rule, do so on purpose, not out of sloppiness. Do so only if it serves your audience…”

“Mr. Greco tolerated the use of sentence fragments for stylistic emphasis. But only if we clearly labeled them with an “F” to indicate the error was deliberate. (F)”

** 3. “If a reader doesn’t understand what you are trying to say, that is your fault—not the reader’s… The burden of clarity is always on the writer.”

** 4. “Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. No piece of writing is ever done; it merely meets a deadline…”

“Mr. Greco docked me for boneheaded mistakes I might have noticed had I used all my allotted time to review my work.”

** 5. “You must be willing to write, to say and even be things that are unpopular.”

Recently Mr. Greco said: “If you are a critical thinker, you are going to find you are sometimes at odds and disagreement with your peers, your government, your church, or your synagogue, with your family. You must be brave enough to sometimes stand apart.”

** 6. “Be kind, even when you don’t need to be.”

Ms. Rampell goes on for a bit and then ends her piece with “Thank you, Mr. Greco.”

My hope: That you you were at least once taught by a Mr. Greco-like teacher, that your kids will have that honor, too, and always with thanks. ~ Carol