I apologize for the late post, but I just returned from a two-day field trip with my daughter. With almost 60 other fourth graders and almost as many parents, we wandered through the state on charter buses and enthusiasm. It was a fantastic trip for the kids, a unique opportunity to put sights, sounds, smells, and feeling to many of the places they’ve been studying in this year’s Indiana history unit.

At every place we stopped, the tour guides were wonderful. They knew their subjects and reported on them with gusto. It was a great experience for the kids’ history unit, but a dismal one for their language arts curriculum.

Although Day 1 went pretty well, Day 2 got off to a mediocre start and ended badly from a language standpoint. Now, I realize I’m a bit of a grammar stickler, but when the first tour guide of the day used the word “ain’t” in a speech to school kids, I felt justified in cringing visibly. Tour guide number two had such poor grammar that several of the parents started murmuring among themselves. When my very own fourth grader corrected tour guide number three under her breath, I knew we were doomed.

I have a vast amount of respect for these tour guides who are, if not unpaid, compensated only a pittance. They do what they do because they love it so much they think it is important to share with others. I’m grateful for their dedication, I really am, but this is where I jump off. The kids on these tours are sponges, willing to soak up every drop of knowledge the guides will share with them. Mr. and Ms. Tour Guide, they are listening to what you say, every word. Don’t squander the opportunity to teach them not only the facts, but the right way to communicate them. Please?

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