This is my third summer teaching Business Writing and Presentation to incoming management seniors at a nearby university. I love teaching, except the part where I have to grade papers: I discovered that if I leave the papers stacked on top of each other, they breed overnight.
The Coach sometimes yields to my insistence that he help me check papers. But you cannot get the imp out of The Coach. In one exam, I asked my students to define the word stoke. One guy rather desperately, answered: Past tense of stick, he he he. Not to be outdone, The Coach wrote back in glorious red ink: You're wrong! He he he.
There are times when I get thoroughly stumped: what to do, for instance, when your student defines alternate as something like one, it's blue, two, it's white; three, it's blue, four, it's white; next, it's blue, then it's white--about six pairs of blue and white. The Coach, champion of the oppressed, pleaded on the boy's behalf, "Sige na, give him the point. He knows the answer naman."
One of my students this summer is wonderfully creative. The topic this afternoon was conciseness in writing. I encouraged them to omit needless words and to use verbs instead of nouns or adjectives for crisper, snappier language. How, for instance, can they shorten the phrase expressing yourself well by means of the written word?
"What's the one-word equivalent?" I asked them. "I'm looking for a verb."
"Expressing!" a guy in the middle row said.
I was actually looking for the verb writing. "Okay," I said. "But what's even shorter than that?"
"Express!" another student said.
"Shorter," I said.
"One word, one verb that's shorter?" I prompted. "Anyone?"
And someone from the back answered, her voice clear but trailing towards the end. "Ex?" she said.