Tuesday, September 21, 2010

English is dead, and I don't feel so good myself...

Today, my friend Libby shared a link on Facebook to an obituary that appeared in Sunday's The Washington Post. This was no ordinary obit. It was a cleverly crafted ode by Gene Weingarten lamenting the loss of the English language. You can read it here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/13/AR2010091304476.html

I've read it three times. The first time through I was amused by it, mainly because it is so cleverly crafted. As an aficionado of the English language, I truly love reading perfectly proficient prose. Which brings me to the thoughts that came to me during my second reading:

What the hell happened to our ability to write that well? When did writing become the bane of our existence? What happened in our society to cause high school graduates to choose their college major based upon how little they will have to write? Why is the only time students actively protest the actions of college administrators and teachers is when we require them to take a course designated as "writing enhanced" to graduate? And that begs another question: When did college curricula become so weak that it became necessary to add courses to them called "writing enhanced?" And what really burns me: Students who tell me they are majoring in a particular communication sequence just so they don't have to take a designated writing course.

My third reading came after I shared the column with several of my students, and it became abundantly clear to me none of them got the joke. As I reread the column, I realized that practically no product of America's education system during the past 20 years or so will get the column, because their reading comprehension doesn't extend to that level. What does this portend (a word I used in a Facebook postnthis week that actually confused some people!) for our society? How long until this country literally becomes functionally illiterate? And are we there already? And, the scariest question of all: Can we fix it?

1 comment:

Thanks for reading -- and for the feedback!