Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Little Note to Readers

School is almost over and some of my classes are already taking exams. Final papers are pouring in and need to be read. This is the part of the term where sane people wonder why they ever went into teaching. I offer this information by way of excuse if it may seem to you that the postings are in the "doom and gloom" mode this week. Matches my mood perfectly.

Allow me to share with you this brief excerpt from a student paper that I was faced with this week and you might understand my mood. The student wrote: "Children go from being tweens into adultery, where more is expected of them." Yes, indeed.


Anonymous said...

As a former teacher I can sympathize. Mine were younger so the worst I ever got was their writing about "human beans."

I assume your student's paper was about politics. Seems to apply there.

Orthonomics said...

You do teach at the college level, do you not?

the apple said...

This is a college paper?!


ProfK said...

Yes, I teach in college. I teach the third level writing courses, so my students are mostly seniors with a few juniors mixed in. And yes, most of my students are the products of our great and goodly yeshiva high school system for boys. Fairness makes me say that some of them do speak/read/write English as if it were actually their mother tongue. The majority do not. Their English education is execrable. They are not encouraged to read English books and they are exposed all day to what can best be described as "Yinglish." But this is fodder for a different post.

You might enjoy last term's great English goof. One student carefully followed MLA format for his final paper. He got his name correct (not always the case), my name correct (also not always the case), and the date correct. Then he typed in the name of the course. There in black in white was "LLE 201 Advanced Suppository Writing." While I've actually always thought the course was Advanced Expository Writing, the student may be closer to the truth then I am--I guess it depends on what you use to think with and where you are storing your knowledge.

Bas~Melech said...

Please bear in mind the famous mothers' battle cry: It hurts me more than it hurts you!

Anonymous said...

In part the blame might go to spell checkers - proofreading is a lost art. You just skip between the marked words and accept a correction.... be it logical or not.

Of course one might want to actually check the dictionary for the defintion of a word before accepting it.... if they have english skills that have not passed the primary school level.

At least I can excuse my co-workers for mistakes like that when English is their 2nd or more often 3rd language. But university students in the US? *shudder*


Anonymous said...

"Children go from being tweens into adultery, where more is expected of them."

That really happened to you ?

I thought it was more like an apocryphal tale.

If it did happen, perhaps the student inserted it as a prank?

ProfK said...

Bas Melech,
You are right that spell check turns out to be the culprit in many cases. Students don't seem to know how it really works, and if a word gets highlighted they automatically change it to one of the choices in the spell check list without checking their original spelling in the dictionary.

The way things are going with some of the products of the yeshiva system we could legitimately call them all ELL or ESL students--English does not seem to be their first language.

I wish this was only apocryphal. I usually make a copy of the page of work that has the error to show my chairperson and/or the Deans I am friendly with because they, like you, can't believe that our students could make such errors. After decades of teaching English, I not only believe they can make such errors, purely by accident, but that they couldn't be inserting the material as a prank because to do so they would have to be a lot stronger in English then they are.

ProfK said...

Sorry Shoshanah, that spell check comment was yours. Talk about proof reading.

Ookamikun said...

Brooklyn College, Art class test, "We can see that this is a holy man because he has bear [sic] feet."
Even if this would be spelled correctly, huh?

queeniesmom said...

Thank you! Now I don't feel so bad when I read some of my middle school students' papers. Yes, spell check is to blame for some of the problems but many don't even pay attention to it.
Proofreading trick that I try to have my students use - read the paper word for word backwards. This forces you to look at each word instead of reading what you think should be there.
Good luck grading.

Anonymous said...

The strange language isn't limited to English papers either. In describing the lifestyle of the late tsars of Russia, one student wrote that "the tsars lived an effluent lifestyle." Okay, their lifestyle "stunk" but I don't think that was the only or even main reason for their demise. They are math challenged too. One student thought that we really ought to call Henry VIII Henry VI. When I asked why he answered that Henry had only had 6 wives and he died before he could add the other two so the name was wrong.

I also keep copies of these gems because until they see it in writing some people cannot believe that our students can be so, so, so "original."