Wednesday, December 14, 2016


My students are writing essays about characters in short stories that they are choosing from a curated collection I have provided. Because character is key to the assignment, many of the stories have first person narrators, and several times today students have referred to an unnamed speaker by the opposite gender that I imagined they were.

In some cases the students missed an important detail, but one of the conversations started with the student correcting me when I referred to the main character by the other gender than she had imagined.

"You mean he?" she said with a sniff. And when I frowned, trying to recall the details of the story, she told me, "It doesn't say either way, but I think it's a boy, and that's how I'm going to write it."

I nodded, impressed by her confidence. "I guess you could make that claim," I said, using the language of the essay unit.

"Claim?" she shook her head. "It would be debatable if I called the main character "they"! I'm pretty sure the speaker is a guy."

"Okay," I answered. "Keep working! I can't wait to see your evidence."

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