On the Rote Again

When Sister Aquina commanded my fifth grade class to memorize a list of prepositions, I thought the assignment was stupid and she was nuts. Whatever good would come from such required rote memorization? But since I didn’t want to fail fifth grade language class, I set about the task.

preposition

I soon determined that the only way I could memorize the 40 words on Sister’s list was to learn them in a rhythm. It took a while for me to get in the groove, but I ended up with a 4/4 beat based on the accented syllables. Feel free to recite along with me:

aBOUT, aBOVE, aCROSS, AFter,
aGAINST, aMONG, aROUND, (rest for a beat),
AT, beFORE, beHIND, beLOW,
beSIDE, beTWEEN, beYOND, BY,
DOWN, DURing, exCEPT, FOR,
FROM, IN, inSIDE, inTO,
NEAR, OF, OFF, ON,
OUT, Over, THROUGH, throughOUT,
TO, TOWARD, UNder, unTIL,
UP, upON, WITH, withIN,
withOUT!

I memorized Sister’s list and passed fifth grade language class 43 years ago. And dang it, writer that I am, I still use those prepositions and refer to my sing-song list every single day! Turns out there is a reason for rote memorization now and then. So thank you Sister Aquina, wherever you are.

Laura Sternweis

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