How is that the youth of today are not using proper grammar, capitalization, or punctuation in their writing? How did they get as far as they did in school without learning it? What are your thoughts on this.
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I concur with Post #7. The students in high school today are very much products of the whole language approach to writing instruction, and they suffer for it in the final products they produce for us. The idea behind whole language is a noble one: just get them writing and the grammatical stuff life spelling and punctuation will come later; the ideas are most important. Unfortunately, later never comes... By the time they are 15 years old, the old habits are ingrained and now they think that the English teacher who wants to teach them the "real" way is only being an old stick-in-the-mud and stifling their writing. It is a tough battle to wage everyday.
Boy, have you touched a sore spot. With the use of cell phones and other small communicative devices that make it difficult to use capitalization and other forms of once important punctuation, students seem to think that they are now exempt from grammatical rules. It's now a regular first-day-of-school lecture for me, explaining that if work is going to be turned in such a sloppy manner, then failing grades will follow. One can tell that most eNotes posters are guilty of this.
I have had the same experiences as Post #7. The "theorists" (probably someone's doctoral dissertation) determined that teaching grammar was unncessary. As a result, English teachers in my district were forbidden to teach grammar and punctuation; the emphasis was on something called "whole language learning." I also disagreed with it; in fact I found it nonsensical; however, mine was only one voice. The appalling lack of grammar and punctuation skills prevalent today is the product of the "whole language" approach. I hope those "theorists," whereever they are, are now satisfied.
Texting is part of it, but there has also been a steady deemphasis on grammar in the teaching of writing at the college level. Some "theorists" believe that students should be encouraged to write about anything, in any way they wish, just to get them interested in writing. The idea is that grammar is stifling and prescriptive and kills originality; once the juices are flowing and students are in love with writing, they will want to learn grammar themselves. I have heard people make this argument. It is one with which I have never agreed. Clear writing, correct grammar, and logical thought go hand-in-hand (in my humble opinion).
They have tools to do that for them on computers now, so it's not necessary for them to learn it, or at least, that's what they think. Their most common daily experience with unspoken language is texting on their cell phones, which uses a stunted dialect and almost no grammar at all. And we are still using traditional methods to teach grammar which the students find no value in, and don't care to learn.
I think that it's just the changing times. Languages change and evolve and people who like the old ways constantly bemoan the "degradation" of their language. Even those of us who grew up without computers have abandoned some rules of grammar that were once thought of as important (split infinitives, not ending sentences with prepositions). I think that the changes that are going on now are just the natural changes in usage that happen with all languages.
Apathy is certainly a major part of the problem, but I also believe that the "shorthand" of texting and tweeting and all the rest is greatly complicating the issue. Students who realize they are capable of communicating with these alternative usages can make the argument that if the message is successfully transmitted from sender to receiver, then there must not be a serious problem with the details of spelling or punctuation. Those who can't make that argument simply don't realize that there is a difference - they've come to believe the texting spelling is the correct one!
Students don't use grammar textbooks in my state, and I don't think teachers have a set curriculum that they follow. I know we are not supposed to teach grammar in isolation, but I do think students need direct instruction in every grade. I have had seniors in my classes before who didn't know the parts of speech. Students like to use text message abbreviations in their writing, especially if it is in-class writing. That drives me crazy! I think block scheduling hurts the language arts classes. That schedule really limits the amount of reading we can do. The lack of instruction is showing up in society, too. I've been noticing lately how many errors are in the local newspaper and even in articles published on major online news sites. Last night I read the program description for a television show on cable and there was an error in that.
My biggest concern with the writing of the young today may be tied directly to their use of computers and/or cell phones to communicate. The short hand they use, I have found, works its way into their "formal" writing, which—in essence—makes it informal.
This is only part of the problem, though. When I began teaching, before computers had entered the mainstream, and before text messaging, I asked myself the exact same question. At the high school, I wondered what teachers in middle school were doing. When I chose to move back down to the middle school, I knew I was covering the curriculum and practicing it, rewarding it, etc. However, there were kids that would learn it and those who would not. And honestly, their apathy may be what pushed them to just "get by." On the other hand, when trying to teach students, covering SO much with regard to "English" or "Language Arts," that you can only beat a dead horse so many times. When you do stop testing them on the same things, over and again? How many times do we reinforce the difference between "it's" and "its," and when do we move on? Even when my students knew they would lose a point for every time they misspelled the same word, it didn't seem to matter. It was easier to lose the point than to learn the material. This brings me back to apathy: it's nearly impossible to overcome a student's disinterest.
This has been my experience, anyway.
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