(Pedantic) Question of the day – Singular “they”

Michael Laser recently emailed me the following:

“A student pointed out to me that “they” is now considered acceptable as a singular pronoun. (“Someone left their glove in my car.”) I was skeptical, so I checked it out, and found the attached article. My guess is, my generation will have to die off before this is universally accepted.

If you think people would benefit from reading the article, please either email to FYW teachers or post via the blog.

“Sorry, grammar nerds. The singular ‘they’ has been declared Word of the Year.” – The Washington Post

So, here’s the question – do you allow students to use the singular “they” in your classes?

Personally, I do, primarily because it is more gender-inclusive and provides more options. Plus I’m just not that picky and have a lot of larger issues to focus on.



A New Tool for Learning: Patience

By Kathy Curto

It’s the morning rush hour and I’m on the 6 train heading to Union Square. A young woman pushes her way through the doors of the subway car and plops into the seat across from me.  I’m charmed instantly—gold metallic eye shadow, velvet burgundy bellbottoms and a black wool beret that has not one speck of lint on it. She takes out a little book with turquoise swirls and stars that speckle the outside cover which is also gold and shiny. I think it’s Rumi but I’m not sure. Either Rumi or Neruda.

I smile and my thoughts move in two distinct but parallel directions:  to the power of patience as a tool for learning and to Kate, a classmate of mine back in graduate school.

Kate was also someone who could pull off metallic eye shadow and who I could count on to walk into class wearing outfits that sang songs of freedom, risk and liveliness, somehow making me feel nostalgic, refreshed and proud to have grown up in the 70s all at the same time. I suppose this is what happens when you go back to earn an MFA at forty- three years old while holding down a teaching job and answering to four people who call you Mom. I was exhausted and my “Small Coffee:  Black” habit and drinking in of Kate’s whimsical combinations of textures, prints and solids was all I had to stay afloat on some days.

Kate’s creativity, her charisma and her good instincts extended way beyond mustard-colored cardigans and matte lipstick that might make Bardot jealous. She was a gifted writer and a classmate who took her time:  in her writing, her speaking and her critical analysis. Her style and approach to the work were mature beyond her years and I marveled at what her smooth, unaccelerated pace seemed to produce:  clear, deep, searing feedback about the readings. Continue reading