Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why I Want to Tear My Hare Out

I've spent most of the day engaged in one of my least favorite activities, grading student papers. Since students these days don't read nearly as much as they used to, they don't write nearly as well as they used to.

Here are some amusing (or excruciating, depending on your perspective) examples, copied verbatim:

"I am assuming that the audience has very little prior knowledge to the show so, bare with me if I go into too much detail with the characters."

Is that an invitation?

From the same paper we also have:

"He explains to her there is many other guys out there."

"With Roger flirting so much with this woman, is makes DJ seem invisible."

and

"I feel as though all I have said about the show was negative, and also defending myself because I fit in the college male field, but it really was not?"

I want to clobber this kid for caring so little about his work, and for making me slog through it.

On a less tragic note, here's one from another student. It brings to mind all sorts of fun possibilities:

"Despite their different hair colors, all the girls have the same body shape and work together in using their feminine products to save the day."

Projectile tampons? Mace disguised as FDS? Caustic douches? Midol laced with strychnine? I'd love to see a show with a bunch of women obliterating the bad guys and saving the day using only "feminine products." That'll teach those asshole Massengill execs to capitalize on female insecurity.

14 Comments:

Blogger katiedid said...

Aren't those some doozies... wow. It wouldn't be fair if I commented beyond that, since I have a habit of butchering English, too. Well, sometimes I just wing it, but the poor language is injured nonetheless.

8:27 PM, October 01, 2005  
Blogger PFG said...

I know that having different hair color from my female co-workers had made it hard for us to work together in the past, but we have overcome those differences and are currently stockpiling our products. Soon, we will have enough night protection maxi-pads with wings to take over the entire department!!!! (insert evil laughter here)

What are you teaching? Is it upper or lower level? Isn't it horrible that I can't tell from the writing? I agree with you about the lack of reading. I should start collecting data on the reading habits of the people I teach, then do a correlation with their grades on writing assignments. Not terribly scientific as I could be biased, but I would be interested in seeing the results anyhow.

The research methods lab I TA'ed this Spring was for upper year majors and the writing was overall pretty shitty. I had one student who could not write a sentence. I am not exaggerating. I was horrified. I couldn't even grade her papers for content since more than half the time I couldn't understand what she was trying to say. I kept wondering how she had gotten this far without anyone telling her she desperately needed remedial tutoring. Was it just that everyone's afraid to be the asshole? We have a writing center, and I told her I strongly felt she should go to it. But I'm just a grad student...what do I know? I'm sure she didn't go. She also failed my lab, which meant she failed the course.

I feel like the university is cheating these people out of their money by taking it for what? Not the education they are promised, that's for sure.


smymwu: muumuu for the beach

2:23 PM, October 02, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Hey PFG,

We're dealing with the same problem. I'm teaching university undergrads and grad students. The posted examples are from undergrad papers (thank goodness -- our grads write much better than that). Since I don't teach writing, it's not my job, nor do I have the time, to take them through a remedial writing course. But in my opinion they shouldn't have been admitted to the university in the first place, though it's awfully hard to tell who can write and who can't when high school grades are inflated near to popping and personal statements are written and/or refined by someone else (e.g., parent, counselor, teacher).

In the year between my BA and grad school, I taught test prep for one of those Kaplan-Princeton-Review-type companies. I was in Michigan, where college grads with teaching certificates had to pass a certain standardized test to teach. I actually got into an argument with my three students -- all three of them against me -- over why there is indeed a problem with this sentence: "I should of gone to the store earlier." They insisted "should of" was correct. I tried to explain that "should've" is a contraction of "should have" and only SOUNDS like "should of." They didn't believe me. Finally I had to show them the instructor's manual and just demand that they memorize it if they wanted to pass the test, even if it didn't make sense to them. These were people poised to TEACH Michigan CHILDREN. Appalling.

Katiedid, my dear -- my writing is riddled with errors too, especially when I'm not motivated to edit too much (like when I'm posting on my blog or someone else's, or when I'm emailing a friend). But I just can't imagine turning in a paper like that. I guess some kids are happy with Cs. *shrugs*

3:31 PM, October 02, 2005  
Blogger katiedid said...

Yeah, I don't get that either, you're right. Why not go the extra mile and either self-edit or work with a rough draft and THEN a final one? I mean, you're paying for that C when you could pay the same amount for something better. I just can't imagine how frustrating it must be to see these sorts of errors made over and over.

9:57 PM, October 02, 2005  
Blogger Jonniker said...

Oh god. I honestly laughed myself silly, though, at the vision of using feminine products to save the day. I know a tampon has saved my day many a time, but I don't think that's what this gentleman was referring to.

2:48 PM, October 03, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

OMG K. These are funny.
And now I have a vision of a line of Charlie's Angels types, walking down the road with outthrust arms, spraying FDS on any who dare thwart them!

You have a trying job!
xo
Laura

9:42 AM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger PFG said...

Funny you should mention Michigan...
I had a linguistics class at Eastern Michigan University that was made up of students from Ling, English, and Education.
I once heard one education student say to another "I don't care WHY a noun is a noun. I just want to know what it is so I can teach it!"
That is, well, it's unfortuate.

9:48 AM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

PFG -- all three of the students in my test prep class were EMU education graduates. And EMU is supposed to be tops in education! Then again, I think it's safe to say that these three were at the bottom of their class. They were taking my test prep class because they'd failed the standardized test twice and only had one more chance to pass it. I wonder if they did. *cringe*

10:24 AM, October 04, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

I had to come back here with this one; I just got a mail message from someone who wants to make an appointment with me. This is how it starts:
"I see that your colander is quite full, but,,,"

I burst out laughing. How the heck did he know I was rinsing spaghetti!!?

:-)
L

2:07 PM, October 05, 2005  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Ok..I must confess I like the projectille tampons....

An attitude adjustment might be easier...Just a thought...

xoxox

4:48 PM, October 05, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Sorry, B, I don't mean to come across as a hardass. It's just that it's my job to hold them to high standards. An attitude adjustment would be a LOT easier. It would suck up less of my time and leave them happy (until they get elbowed out of their first job for sloppy writing and low work standards.) In fact, due to general exhaustion and pressure from parents who get litigious if their kids don't get the grades needed to make it into the outrageously expensive law and business schools of their choice, too many of my colleagues have already adopted such an attitude adjustment -- it's called grade inflation. :-(

My big fear is that we as a society will become so relaxed about things like grammar, syntax, and spelling that we will even tolerate a PRESIDENT who can't construct a proper sentence.

Oh wait... ;-)

12:26 PM, October 06, 2005  
Blogger Bela said...

I couldn't do your job, K. I think you know how I feel about bad spelling, grammar, etc. It drives me nuts. G-d forbid students should be told they're not good enough. Please do not adjust your attitude - it's the thin end of the wedge.

We've never been exposed to so much bad writing.

L, love the colander! LOL!

10:23 PM, October 06, 2005  
Blogger Whinger said...

I totally remember an English prof at my college coming into class one day and writing on the board:

they're = they are
their = belongs to them

And then she put her head down on the desk and told us to get our graded papers.

5:15 PM, October 07, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Whinger -- thanks for my big laugh of the day. Boy, do I sympathize with her. On my chalkboard it would say "'Data' and 'media' are PLURAL nouns."

I think the problem isn't that kids aren't as well trained as they used to be (though I'm sure that's PART of the problem), but that they rely far too much on spellcheck and other computer functions to "proofread" for them. I frequently exchange "there," "their," and "they're" in my writing because my fingers are disconnected from my brain half the time I'm typing. But I can catch the error by proofreading at the end. The spellcheck function would never catch this problem because all three words are spelled correctly.

There is no substitute for printing out a preliminary hard copy of one's work and reading it with one's own eyeballs. I catch most of my own typos and errors that way.

10:53 AM, October 08, 2005  

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