Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why college students can't write...

They're simply not taught how to do so in high school.

Read Death to High School English

Why do you care, Steve, you're the Hudson Valley Geologist?

Because I make my students write labs and papers in geology classes - just like you're made to write in real life if you have any job beyond that requiring the use of a deep fryer.

"people who right like this and dont use proper grammer or spelling, sometimes random Capitalization for know apparant reason and, wierd comma use or slang like u see hear in a college paper are surpisingly common in the college."

I swear to God I've read shit like this in a college-level class. (OK, it's a community college, but these students do have high school diplomas!)

I wouldn't hire these dumb asses if I ran a business.


  1. I feel very fortunate that my high school English program was traditional and rigorous.

    I am especially grateful to my high school English teacher Shamus, who taught me (and the other 40 girls in my high school class) how to write properly. I had other good high school English teachers, but Shamus designed the school's curriculum and whipped the freshman (he called us "rat faces") into shape. He was very strict. When he graded our papers, he would subtract 5 points off our grade for every typo and grammatical error. We learned to write carefully and to proofread even more carefully.

    By the end of four years, I had practically memorized "Warriner's English Composition and Grammar" and had read dozens of classic books ranging from "The Illiad" to "The Canterbury Tales" and from "Dracula" to Joyce's "Ulysses."
    My senior year, I took the AP English exam cold. I had not been able to take the AP English class because it conflicted with a science class, but Shamus encouraged me to take the AP exam anyway. I took one practice test and then took the test for real. I received a perfect score on the exam. Students from my high school often ace the AP English Exam with little to no preparation (except for the school's normal English curriculum, of course).

    Actually, I find blogging, which is by nature quick and dirty, difficult to reconcile with my high school writing training. I cannot write perfectly in all my posts as there simply isn't time. But every time I notice a typo or a grammatical error or an awkward structure in one of my posts, I feel Shamus glaring over my shoulder. I wish all high school students could be taught by Shamus. At the very least, they should all be required to own a copy of trusty "Warriner's."

    Good luck with yous students. I hope there isn't *too* much text speak. That drives me crazy!

  2. I agree with you regarding writing skills of today's students. I was a volunteer high school economics teacher for three years, teaching one class a day limited to the TOP 10-12 students. They couldn't write at all. I would correct their papers and make them take the papers to their English teachers. My thinking was for those teachers to see areas of weakness and adjust their emphasis accordingly. Naive. The English teachers revolted and demanded, through the front office, that I quit wasting their time. I took it upon myself to teach the students, but after three years of fighting the administration (remember I was a volunteer so the front office really had no way to discipline me) I gave up. An interesting development was that some had me teach them English even after I "retired" and numerous students have kept in contact over the years. I'd say many of those you've come across are not "dumb asses", but rather students who've never had any legitimate teaching and may just be very hungry for your help.

  3. I totally agree with Steve. I teach college English, and the commas are ending up in all the wrong places; the syntax and grammar are terrible (despite weeks of teaching), and they cannot follow instructions. I printed out the format for college papers, and most don't follow it. If it isn't in their iPhones or Droids, it is not important. They don't understand why they cannot listen to music on their phones while writing in-class papers or tests. Most teachers are getting out of the field--there is no discipline, no back-up from our administration. It is all about headcount and large classes, mixed with kids with learning disabilities we cannot possibly help in such large classes. It's been two months, and they still ask me if I have a stapler for their papers, or, "Oh...I forgot to type it--is that okay?" There is a huge difference in the last three years.