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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The missing link

Consider yourself warned, this may be a slightly whiny post...you see, I find myself annoyed today. Annoyed by students, annoyed by collegiate education and even annoyed by myself. And here is why:

A couple of times this week I have had this conversation with different people. "I was so mad that my paper was marked so low in _(insert any class besides English here)____, I mean, it isn't a writing class."
Perhaps because I am an English teacher I bristle. But it really does make me wonder about the core concept of collegiate education and where students miss the link. Generals in every subject are not required so you can pass a single class and then forget all about it as you make your way into your major. So when I hear someone make the above statement I can't help but roll my eyes inside and think, "just because it is a biology class if you turn in an essay with blatant formation and punctuation mistakes you can't be upset to get docked for it. Biologists are expected to write well too." If I had a student turn in a flawlessly written essay about the function of the PIE formula, but the math was completely wrong, I would mark the student down for a failure of understanding their subject matter - so doesn't it make sense that writing matters in other disciplines?

Of course it does. So where does the misconception come from? Is it the specialized nature of our "major" system that breeds the idea that a general course is just "something you have to do?" Is it more indicative of the poor state of education across all levels in this country? Or is it just pure human laziness?

And don't think that this high-horse kettle isn't entirely aware of her hypocrisy in calling the pot black. I am not sure I even remember the last time that someone threw out even a basic math question and my brain made any attempt to compute it. And I know someone out there can quote me as I exited the GRE grad school entrance exam test saying, "I didn't even try on the math section because I am going into English and it doesn't matter."

What happened to the idea of a classical Renaissance education? And why don't many of us embrace it anymore (my husband, who loves every class he ever takes, remembers everything he learns, and always wants to try to learn something else, may be the single exception in my life to this).

And even though I really do feel all of the above...I still kinda want this sweatshirt. :)

3 comments:

Carlie Pennington said...

That sweatshirt is AWESOME.

Stacey said...

okay, but here is my problem, because I know that I made that statement this week, and feel slightly like you might be thinking of me, and I want to verify that when I made that statement, I'm not referring to music class teachers marking down blatant punctuation mistakes or the like- we are talking about them marking down having a space wrong on the indentation or something so miniscule that not even my english teacher (you) have marked down. all in all i agree though- you're very right... English is the foundation...

Chelsi said...

Stacey - I know you did make a statement like that...yours was minuscule - the one that got under my skin was a much larger one that came from some one else. On your issue, I happen to think that there is a problem in the college system about whose responsibility it is to teach APA and MLA formation, which is what your teacher was making a deal over. Love you. :)