Why? Why? Serendipitous Student Connections #4 . . . Discreet/ Discrete/ Lord of the Rings / Salad
A student asked me how to spell "discreet" and I asked her, "Which one?" and she gave me a confused look, and so I explained that "discreet" means subtle and prudent, but "discrete" means individually distinct, and she said, "They're nearly opposites! Why are they doing this to us?" and though she was vague with her angst, I understood her sentiment completely-- as students must perceive the English language specifically and education in general as a byzantine labyrinth with rules made up by some abstract and obtuse They that enjoys derivatives and vectors, homophones and homonyms, paradoxes and contradictions, gerunds and participles, the tiniest of minutia and the grandest of theories . . . and minutes later the same student, on a pedagogical roll, created a lovely and perspicacious analogy on what it's like to read Lord of the Rings (a certain English teacher demands this of students who would like a college recommendation from him) and I found her critique of Tolkien quite accurate: "Reading Lord of the Rings is like eating a big salad at a restaurant, you never get to the end of it."