Ithaca Blog

Monday, June 06, 2011

To Edify (Not Mollify)

Ithaca being an academic community, we thought our readers might appreciate this recent exchange with our friend Sal, who teaches high school English in Rockland County.

Sal writes:

- Latest ponderable from 11th grade vocab quiz:
Asked to use "mollify" in a sentence, a student submitted, "I put fabric softener in my dryer to mollify my underwear." How does one judge this?

I replied:

- Sal, I think you have trouble if you give this.
The sentence then becomes a correct-enough template to define any verb.
"... to circumnavigate my underwear."
"... to amortize my underwear."
If they say that's why they did it, then you can't call them wrong, can you? Unless you hold fast to your right (your responsibility) to consider whether the mollification, circumnavigation, or amortization of the underwear was a reasonable expectation.

Teach your children well -
Steve Burke
for Ithaca NY Blog

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