Maybe I should go back to seventh grade…

This week I’m in Syracuse, New York, working as a tutor. My student is in seventh grade, and behind in his school work. My job is to get him as caught up as possible, as well as motivate him to go to school at this difficult time.

I think things are going well so far. What’s surprised me, though, is the amount of information I’ve learned this week. There are so many things that seventh-graders are learning that either I’ve forgotten or never learned myself. For example:

Did you know that in the early- to mid-1800s a number of Native Americans living in the South resisted the military’s attempts to move them west? Some of them were successful, and their descendants live in the South (states like North Carolina and Florida) today.

Well, one interesting story is about a Cherokee Indian in North Carolina named Tsali, and two of his sons, who gave up their life so their tribe could stay in North Carolina. Tsali accidentally killed an American soldier during a struggle, and escaped with his family.

The military couldn’t find the family anywhere. So they sent Tsali a message saying if he and two of his sons gave up their lives the rest of the Cherokees still in North Caroline could stay in North Carolina. The three of them accepted and were killed. Their fellow Cherokees were then left alone.

I’ve learned the most about American history.

I’ve also learned some things about grammar that I probably should have known already. I realized that when listing several nouns with the word “or” or the words “neither” and “nor,” the verb form you use is the one that agrees with the last noun listed.

Here’s an example:

“The large bowl or the glasses go on that shelf.”

The verb form is “go” instead of “goes” because it must agree with the last noun listed, which is “glasses” in this case. Before I learned this rule I would have known to use “go,” but I wouldn’t have known why.

Here’s another example:

“Neither the police officers nor the fireman knows how to speak Spanish.”

The verb form is “knows” instead of “know” because it must agree with the last noun listed, which is “fireman” in this case.

Before I learned this rule I would have written “Neither the police officer nor the fireman know how to speak Spanish.” And I consider myself a writer!

I also learned about three different types of waves: transverse waves, longitudinal waves, and surface waves.

Not that you care, but with transverse waves particles are displaced perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation. With longitudinal waves particles are displaced parallel to the direction of wave propagation. And with water waves particles are displayed both perpendicular and parallel to the direction of wave propagation.

My life is now complete knowing that! But anyway, this week is making me think that maybe I should go back to seventh grade! It’s also making me realize that many things we “learn” in seventh grade are not needed later in life!

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