The big story about writers this week concerns the firing of Tim Torkildson, Social Media Director for the Nomen Global Language Center in Provo, Utah, for his blog post on the Language Center’s website about homophones.
Yes, homophones; words which sound alike but have different meanings and spellings and which the English language abounds in possessing. Words like “mall” and “maul” or “band” and “banned” and many, many others. Generally, teachers of English and especially English as a second language, take pains to instruct their students about homophones because language can be so confusing when the proper word is not used.
Mr. Torkildson states that he was subsequently fired for his blog about homophones and quotes the owner, Clarke Woodger, as stating to him, “Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.” and “I had to look up the word” he continued, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”
Putting aside the silly notion that the word homophone has ANY association with homosexuality, what really stands out to me is that the owner of a school that teaches English language had to look up the word “homophone” because “I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about.”
That says to me that the owner is nothing but a businessman who has no interest in WHAT his business of teaching language does, only that it continue making money and nothing be done, even in his misunderstood mind, to interfere with that goal. In other words his only investment is a monetary one and not one of truly being interested in what his school is supposed to do for his students. And that is truly, truly sad. You would hope that someone who owns a business teaching language would have the best interests of his students in his heart, but this gentleman doesn’t even seem to have a clue about the school he owns and what it does beyond making him money.
I hope Mr. Torkildson finds another job quickly because unemployment is no fun, especially when you’ve been fired for all the wrong reasons. But I also hold an equal amount of hope that Mr. Woodger either develops a real, heartfelt care and concern for his language center students and their coursework or sells his school to someone who will.