On the Perks of Being a Teacher, or, Why I Still Do What I Do

Today, I shared with my students ways to tighten their writing and the importance of paying attention to the use of appropriate voice. I then pointed out how writers sometimes overlook and use sexist language in their writing, such as:

  • All executives’ wives are invited to the picnic; instead of
  • All executives’ spouses are invited to the picnic


  • John Smith, attorney, and Mrs. Cindy Jones, mother of three, are running for the city council; instead of
  • John Smith, attorney, and Cindy Jones, accountant, are running for the city council

After the class, a student wrote me this email:

Hi Mr. Tham,

I just wanted to thank you for mentioning the importance of paying attention to gender in writing in class today. I am a huge advocate for gender equality and I think a lot of times small details like this can be disregarded by most people. Little steps like this remind people to think about how they can try to ensure equality in their everyday actions. It always means a lot to me when people remember to recognize both men and women and I really appreciated how well you executed it.

Thank you again!

Students like this keep me going in my teaching career. While it can be mentally and (sometimes) physically challenging, teaching is surely a rewarding task when you know students leave the class having learnt some valuable lessons. #happyteacher

Image from NYTimes.

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