Getting It Just Right: A teacher's lessons still ring true
Sreenath Sreenivasan (1987) recalls Fr.Manipadam in an article for this website
"Cross your t's, dot your i's," he would say. "Cross your t's,
i's." I never forgot those instructions.
They came from the tall, wiry teacher whose thick Hawaii
slippers -- the
thickest I had ever seen -- made him taller still. His hand,
piece of chalk, a couple of fingers outstretched, would punch
the air as
he made his point: "Cross your t's, dot your i's."
If you forgot to cross the long stem of a lowercase "t" with a
the right place, or you forgot to put a dot above the "i" at
height, he would make you rewrite that sentence 20 times. I did
a lot of
rewriting the first month.
Fr. John Manipadam, S.J., was telling us about the importance
penmanship. But he was also imparting lessons about more than
He taught me the importance of getting things just right.
Making sure your
work is done properly and checked -- and double checked --
before you turn
it in. Getting the details and getting them right.
As a journalist-to-be, these lessons have lasted a lifetime.
that I am a teacher, I appreciate his pushing us the way he
did. I must
confess I don't think I did much "appreciating" of his methods while I studied
Resenting, whining, complaining was more like it then.
I hardly ever write anything serious by hand anymore. Word
e-mail composers do most of my work. But of all the things that
-- teacher of English literature, serious basketballer and
extraordinaire -- taught me, none was more important
than "cross your t's,
dot your i's."
About the Writer: Sreenath (1987) is professor of journalism at Columbia
University, New York. At Loyola, he was an editor of the school
bulletin LENS -- "one of the proudest achievements" of his
Fr. Manipadam is currently Fr.Provincial, Kerala and can be
reached at email@example.com.