Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We can't communicate and we're too lazy to care

Writing should be an important topic in schools, but the more I teach, the more I realize it’s not stressed nearly enough. This month, I am teaching a “Fundamentals of English” college course. This course teaches the basics of English to students. I cover parts of speech as well as basic writing skills, and I try to do it in 12 hours a week for four weeks.

Really, it’s not nearly enough time. The students need more time to practice, more time to assimilate the information, and more work to do. In some cases, I deal with students who don’t have a clue what a complete sentence is, let alone how to identify a run-on sentence. There are also students who just don’t grasp why the parts of speech are important, even after I give my puzzle analogy. I tend to work my tail off these four weeks and go home exhausted every night, but I also find it more fulfilling than the higher level classes.

In the higher level writing courses, they have been jaded to the writing process and just don’t want to do it. They have also reached a certain “in school laziness” where they are more willing to slough off the work to the last minute. In the Fundamentals class, they are at least still somewhat excited to the new process of school.

But, in all cases, the writing abilities of some of my students saddens me. How is it that our country is producing graduates who don’t know how to communicate properly? And why have we let it go on thus far? Currently, we are a nation at the top of the heap, but we can’t bring ourselves to educate our children to continue that trend. Instead, we produce citizens who don’t know what their rights are, don’t know how to communicate those rights, and, even worse, are too apathetic to care.

It seems the baby boomer generation, the one that produced the changes in the 60’s and 70’s, did not imbue their children with the same restless spirit. Well, most of them at least (I know my mom did). But they also did not give their children the work ethic that our grandparents had. Our country has lost its inventive spark because it’s too much effort to create, whether it be creation of the lightbulb or creation of a book.


Anonymous said...

I found your post on Seeded Buzz and have re-posted it as a guest blog. I guess that's the way it's supposed to work.

Cleveland Carole Cohen 3C said...

I was a TA for the history department at my university in 1974. I bring this up because over 30 years ago, I was struck by the fact that students could not read (in fact many tested at below high school level) and thus could not write their essays or term papers.

Fifteen years ago I substitute-taught social studies in a high school setting. The high school was in an inner ring suburban area. Students told me there was no way they could or would take books home because it was against the peer policy. They'd be ridiculed. Now the parents don't read and the students are following in their footsteps. If you read, you can learn to write and certainly can learn to communicate. I'm a baby boomer and run on sentences are common in my writing so I'm not saying I'm perfect. Just agreeing with you.