Anecdote

An anecdote is a short story (an account of something that happened, whether real or imagined), often humorous but sometimes serious, that makes or illustrates a point of some kind. Here's an example of a paragraph developed around an anecdote.

    Most veteran high school teachers cynically believe, I suspect, that students take teachersí warnings and ultimatums with a grain of salt, that they heed them not. We rant and roar about our "requirements" and "the consequences of failing to meet them" thinking that we are probably doing nothing more than venting our frustrations into the atmosphere--good for the soul, if not actually doing much for the quality of the work. But a few years ago the veil of cynicism was lifted from my eyes in an unexpected manner, and since then I have carefully monitored my diatribes to students. I had prefaced the assignment to my freshmen with the usual "typed in Courier New or written in blue and black ink, double spaced, one side of a page only, indent the first line of each paragraph five letter spaces. . ." The rest of the spiel is irrelevant. A few actually seemed to be writing this down, so I was heartened--but the "golden moment" was tempered by my awareness that students often pretend to be writing things down because it seems to have a calming effect on the teacher. On the following day I collected the assignments--attempts to construct paragraphs like this one--and that evening took them home to read in the security of my study where no one could see me cry. All went along much as I had expected--single-spaced, written in pencil, crayon and lipstick--until I came to one. It was carefully written in black ink on every other line, the first line indented exactly five letter spaces. The spelling and punctuation were flawless. But the entire paragraph was written in a column down the left hand side of the page (respecting, of course, the top, left and bottom margins). I didnít know what to make of it, until, in a flash of insight, it dawned on me: this student had taken me absolutely at my word! She had very carefully "written on only one side of a page." Now when I lecture I am more cautious, knowing that among the students who never listen are those few who take everything teachers tell them literally.