Buckley and rhetoric

I was pleased to learn that the recently deceased William Buckley was home-schooled. You can read a few paragraphs about it in this article, which included this paragraph:

As a home-schooled student, Buckley, my guess is, had lots of practice answering and asking questions. That is the hallmark of good tutoring. Most teachers acknowledge that good tutors can take a student farther, faster and provide a greater depth of knowledge than can the traditional classroom.

I may as well admit that I also included this paragraph because it makes a rhetorical mistake that no high school student will be allowed to make after the first lesson on schemes in the Lost Tools of Writing. Can you tell what it is? How would you fix it?

{With apologies to the author, a veteran of many years in education. We all make mistakes like this if they aren’t drilled out of us, so I mean no disrespect to the author.}

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2 Responses

  1. The problem is his failure to write in a parallel structure. You read it expecting three adverbs for the verb take, but he only gives two, then, where the grammar indicates a third adverb, he throws a verb at us.

    Since he doesn’t have a third adverb, he should not have used the parallel structure. I’d suggest something like this: “take a student farther faster, while providing greater depth…”

    Of course, he may have meant “farther and faster”, but the structure blocks us from clearly apprehending his meaning. Too bad, because he clearly has something to say.

  2. »that good tutors can take a student farther, faster and provide a greater depth of knowledge«

    Insert “and” between “farther” and “faster”? Or, more heavy-handedly, “take a student farther, take him faster and provide him a greater depth of knowledge.” Are there better alternatives?

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