Meye RANT on American edyoucayshun

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jeremy.king, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #1
    So my wife is a teacher in IL and the state often applies pressures to sub-performing districts to drive up test scores or face some penalty (whatever that may be). So in order to do so, they often focus on subjects they know will be on the ISAT. I am sure other states have similar states have similar tests and mandates.

    Unfortunately, this teaching style comes at a cost. It seems nowadays, that American's abilities to speak and spell is going to the sh!**er. I have helped my wife grade short essays and other papers from her 6th and 7th graders, and I must say it was an eye opening experience. The errors these kids are making wouldn't have allowed me to graduate....2nd grade!

    Why the rant???

    I'm a devoted Mac owner and fan and I visit this site often. After reading hundreds of the posts I realize how bad it’s getting. I'm not picking on anyone in particular, but it seems the spelling on this very site is especially horrendous! Granted quick typing causes some errors, but most of the errors are just unacceptable. I myself have made several grammatical and spelling errors in my posts, but I consider myself somewhat edu-ma-cated!

    I understand that the community in this forum is international, but I am seeing people from the US misspelling EASY words! The best are the phoenetic spellings. I don't think I need to list them (as I don't want to single out anyone), as we all have seen them. You can almost figure out the age of some of the users of this site based on their grammar and spelling. Sometimes I will politely remind people how to use the english language, but most times I remain silent. Heck, I’m sure someone may even find an error in this post :)

    I can only think that with the advent of computers and technology and teachers now "teaching to the test", we are sacrificing our abilities to communicate effectively through words.

    We, as Americans, seem to be falling more and more behind other countries with respect to education and this very forum is a living example.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #2
    Hear hear... my wife is also a teacher, she teaches 9th grade English and 11th/12th grade theater history. The level of writing from her students is atrocious for the most part, although there are also many who are good at it. Her school is occasionally threatened with The Big Stick if they don't get their test scores up. Each year the school devotes some insane amount of time to standardized testing. All told it adds up to about 2 weeks of the school year. Because of the threats and the possible punishment teachers face, most find it easier to 'teach to the test' instead of teaching the broad concepts and working on writing skills. Since standardized tests rarely ask for anything other than a multiple choice answer, that's what kids are given instruction in. As my HS calculus teacher said when prepping us for the SAT and AP exams: "If you are doing any actual math on the multiple choice problems, you are doing it wrong and you won't have time to finish. Looking the answers over should immediately discount one or two of them, and partially solving the problem should show you which of the remaining answers is correct." That's not math, it's just learning to play a game of elimination.

    My wife teaches her kids how to take standardized essay tests with the a very formulaic method that seems to work, but is terrible writing. Introduction, thesis, body paragraphs conclusion. For each paragraph, topic sentance, concrete detail, concrete detail. It's the most awful crap to read, but it is what the testers want to see because it's easy to judge compliance.
     
  3. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    Location:
    Houston, TX
    #3
    Re: Meye RANT on American edyoucayshun

    i got an 800 on my SAT II writing, a 79 (out of 80) on the PSAT writing section, and a 760 on the SAT verbal.

    writing "effectively" comes naturally to me, but as for spelling errors, i am pretty lax about them online. this is a totally informal place. i don't even bother with capitals on my first letters.

    I know the rules for English grammar like the back of my hand, and I can use them whenever and wherever I need to. I don't feel I need to here, and so I forego some some simple things like capitals. Personally, spelling comes very easily to me and I usually spell words correctly (sans the occasional typo). Nevertheless, I understand that many people have minor cases of dyslexia or simply don't spell well. I am more than willing to rake them over the coals in spite of this when it comes to formal writing, but in here, as long as I know what the hell they are trying to say, I don't complain.

    in an environment where rigid formality is expected, you look like a fool when you don't use it. that's not the case here, again. while one might include my posts among those that contribute to the "bad image" of education that this forum portrays (as you see it), i am very educated in simple grammar and effective writing.

    all this to say, be careful of your generalizations. you are certainly right that our educational standards are falling far behind, but this forum has no place being used as an example for such a backslide.

    that's my 2¢.
     
  4. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #4
    when i post online i dont care much for grammar or spelling. its like texting (sms) where all you want to do is get the message across in the easiest fashion. but when it comes to essays and the like, as well as letters home or to friends (serious letters not quick emails) then i get serious. i think more schools though should start a grammar program.
     
  5. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #5
    I have a lot of trouble with this one. while I firmly agree that every essay that contains an argument needs to have some form of thesis towards the beginning, that introductions and conclusions are all but imperative in such writing, it makes me want to slap my teacher in the face when she starts spouting off bull**** about about how "your introduction should be 5-8 sentences long, each body paragraph should be 8-11 sentences, your best argument shoulc be saved for the last body paragraph..."

    teaching writing should be done oxford style. students should have to write A LOT. students' writing should be actively peer-critiqued as well as teacher critiqued. rather than making a stupid, detailed rubric that puts style inside a small, dull box, students should be praised for arguments of whatever style that show to be effective. the teacher should go through writing samples with the class and point out various ways in which effective writing is accomplished, along with explanations about WHY certain parts of a sample are not very effective, some ways they could be more effective, etc.

    that, of course, is a model for high school. spelling and grammar should be much more emphasized at younger ages through exercises.

    the above model is how i learned, outside of class, from my father, who is a published author (and who has similar thoughts on teaching how to use language).

    multiple choice is a good way to assess a student's progress in many areas of learning, but it's the worst imaginable way to teach it to them. the trouble is it gets obvious results on the multiple choice exams and it's a thousand times easier for both teacher and student.

    that's how we do things in america, though, right? take the easy way out. don't have the resources now? oh well--buy now, pay later. get your standards up faster on paper by basing them on highly limited tests. lose weight fast and easily with such and such! never mind that you'll gain it all back in 2 months if you don't make real changes in your lifestyle! pfffft.....

    how's my rant?
     
  6. jeremy.king thread starter macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #6
    That was my point. Eventually this makes its way into "professional" communication. When I read some of these papers, the kids were using the word "like" as if they were speaking.

    Fictional student essay.

    "Whats youre name?" billy sed.

    And sally was like "Sally".

    I can't even count the errors made there, and the students are a lot worse than that simple example.

    Curious what many feel its not important to use proper spelling and grammar when composing a forum message or email when it was entered by typing on a keyboard ? I could buy the phone argument since keying in a message on a phone is tedious, but not for keyboard input. To me -- its lazy.

    IMO, if someone wants to fill the stereotype of "stupid American" tehy can, but I will, at a minumum, try to spell words correctly.
     
  7. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #7
    we shouldn't have to teach remedial grammar in high school. students should have it forced into them relentlessly far before then. we don't need more grammar programs. we need more intense ones where they are. high school is where students should start developing their writing styles, if not before then.
     
  8. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #8
    now, now, in this very message you used the acronym "IMO." clearly, you buy the argument, whether you say it aloud or not, that even on a keyboard it's acceptable to speed things up by foregoing certain formalities.

    as for your domino theory, i think it's the same one that argues that seeing violence in movies has to lead to a more violent society. I don't agree. people can very easily learn to differentiate between fantasy and reality, between formal and informal. all you have to do is teach them both; the problem is that many aren't LEARNING both.
     
  9. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #9
    i wasnt clear, i meant in primary school or middle school. high school is where we did lit analysis, deconstruction of poems and prose, and all the really yucky stuff, which was fun, kinda. by the time you reach high school if you can construct a sentence properly and spell, you shoulnd't be trying to analyze literature.

    and i am lazy when it comes to the keyboard!!! :D
     
  10. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    sunny los angeles
    #10
    yeah well, sometimes the spelling gets awfully horrendous...to the point where the message they are trying to get across cannot be understood.
    Maybe a lot of these reasons is because the person cant type, so in that case it would be more of a typing thing rather than grammar...I'm finding it pretty difficult to type on this dell keyboard right now and i'm pretty good at typing...mebbe its the keyboard itself.

    how they teach english is ...imho...weird. I'm in 9th grade honors english and theyre teaching us active/passive voice, stuff I learned in middle school...all they do is review the same old basics again and again instead of making us use them and learn new things. somewhat annoying.
     
  11. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #11
    i have horrible online posting habits, i always forget punctuation and basic grammar rules, and spelling, but just remember that even if we make an abundance of mistakes we arent stupid or ignorant, just lazy.

    i got a 790 writting and 780 lit sat ii, but that hasnt made me a better poster!!! :D
     
  12. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #12
    in your school do you have the AP or the International baccalaureate program. their approach to english/literature is so different. i did the IB and would do it again in a heartbeat.
     
  13. jeremy.king thread starter macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #13
    Again, my point. Just because you score well on a test doesn't mean you have the skills necessary to communicate effectively through words. I'm confident you can though ;)

    I've rather enjoyed the elaborate responses, and I would venture to guess that nobody that has posted to this topic would have a problem writing a business proposal or a resume. But I am guessing we (I can include myself, right) are going to become the minority in the near future based on today's teaching methods.

    TOO MUCH STRESS IS PUT ON STANDARDIZED TESTS. Thats the bottom line, and I think that gauging today's kids on a test or two isn't going to be very accurate. I often feel the art of writing and power of words is going to be lost after our generation passes.
     
  14. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #14
    i'm in 9th grade, AP english (whatever) isnt till at least 10th.
    my school is weird when it comes to teaching us stuff.
    http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/NHHS_Highly_Gifted_Mag/
     
  15. janey macrumors 603

    janey

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    #15
    werd. bigtime :D I HATE standardized tests and see no point to them. i think theyre a waste of time because all the teachers do are teach the kids what they need to know, not what they should be learning. Thank god california has some decent standards that teachers have to follow. otherwise we'd just learn algebra, simple english, and get everything over and done with.
    Ironically, the high school exit exam here is a joke...they make you take it in like 10th or 11th grade..its no exit exam :\

    Hehe. I have a resume *giggle*. Surprisingly, you have to take a class at my HS where they teach you how to write one, and do other miscellaneous things. Hrmm...
     
  16. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #16
    depending on my mood i can either express myself effectively or extremely poorly. but i think that happens to the best of us.

    i think there should be more stress put into essays and critical thinking/comprehension, as well as how to structure proper arguments. Analogies don't really help when you're trying to defend or rebutt a point.
     
  17. coolsoldier macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Posting on a forum is a lot like leaving somebody a note on a napkin -- an informal communication. Spelling and grammar are not as important as just getting the message across quickly and easily.

    That said, there's not much excuse for misspellings on a Mac forum, seeing as OS X has inline spell checking built in.

    I get aggravated when I see grammatical and spelling errors in published documents (especially the newspaper), and in prepared speeches and so on, but the tone on a forum is more comparable to a conversation than an essay, and IMO informal, conversational writing is acceptable here.
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    Believe me, she would RATHER teach this way, but if she doesn't get good test scores the school can FIRE her. Kinda makes you want to teach the formulaic writing.
     
  19. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #19
    its a shame schools are worried about scores rather than whether or not they are producing students who can grasp the intricacies of english.
     
  20. coolsoldier macrumors 6502

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    #20
    But then wouldn't students who grasp the intricacies of the english language then produce high test scores?
     
  21. jeremy.king thread starter macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #21
    I partially blame the NCLB Act for changing what is taught in our schools, and I blame technology for masking the intelligence by providing tools such as spell checkers.

    It still doesn't prevent the misuse of homonyms such as their, there, and they're as well as too, to, and two.
     
  22. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #22
    Not necessarily. Taking standardized tests is a game in and of itself. In addition, it is much easier to teach to the tests than to teach the bredth and depth of material necessary to learn the intracacies of the English language. Plus if it comes down to it, the administration will much rather see you teaching the formulaic stuff. It is, in turn easier for them to avoid accountability with THEIR bosses and so on.
     
  23. shadowfax macrumors 603

    shadowfax

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    #23
    IB is not always all that great. it's still highly dependent on the particular school. i graduated IB and i HATED the english department. my teacher was an incompetent fool whose writing was worse than several of the students'. it was ridiculous. I like IB's theoretical approach to english/literature, but it's not always implemented that way into a specific program.
     
  24. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

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    #24
    yeah the teacher makes a lot of difference

    but the orals, world lits, and the whole program is better than filling it blank dots and empty lines. at least you get to explore literature as literature was meant to be explored.

    i loved my teacher, he rocked!!!
     
  25. Roger1 macrumors 65816

    Roger1

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    #25
    You beat me to it. I was going to say NCLB.
     

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