Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 


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Doing grammar and doing good

A few weeks ago I recounted the origins of YO LA TENGO, the weekly e-newsletter of DA’s Upper School Dean of Students (and part-time English Teacher) Lanis Wilson.

In today’s edition, Lanis reminded our students that a week remains until our annual hosting of the Durham County Special Olympics Spring Games. 2015 marks our 30th year hosting the event – one of the most festive and meaningful at DA. Click here to see a short film about last year’s Spring Games. Or read here one perspective on why it matters so much:

Many of you know that as a sometimes teacher of English, I have a heightened sensitivity to grammar; its misuse sounds on my ears like a Zayn Malik-less One Direction.  It’s just wrong.  I am constantly trying to impress upon my students, my children, and passers-by the need to speak and write in a manner that is both clear and precise, and I am not above the occasional pedantic public correction of grammar.  I have even been known to shout at the television when someone says “ between you and I.”  Pronouns following prepositions take the objective case, Joe Teti!  At least once a week I will ask a student how he or she is doing, and I am often greeted with the phrase, “I am doing good.”  Attentive classmates will gasp, because they know what is going to happen next.  I explain that doing “good” involves feeding the hungry, helping the poor, or some similar charitable activity.  The student who has fallen into my grammatical trap will quickly respond that he or she is, in fact, doing well, or was doing well until this seemingly friendly exchange turned into a lesson in grammar.  And thus, I continue to swim against the tide, bringing grammar to the masses, one awkward encounter at a time.  

But on Friday when we host our friends and neighbors from the Durham Public schools there will be no need for correcting grammar, since we will all be doing good.  And I do not mean this in a patronizing way, because I think it is we, the members of the Durham Academy community, who get the most out of this day.  The philosopher George Santayana once wrote, “There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor.”  And that is what we accomplish on this day; in embracing an unfamiliar experience, minds open up, prejudices drop away, and smiles appear everywhere.  I always feel so proud of our community on that day.  We rise to the occasion, we embrace our roles, and in doing so, we become our best selves.  

Photo credit: Durham Herald

Posted by mulkus on Friday April, 17, 2015 at 04:43PM


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