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NorthernMama 04-12-2013 08:14 PM

Rant about writing skills
I know that I have better writing skills than a lot of people. I have always been a fan of language. That may come from my childhood. My parents learned English as their second language. They took great pride in being able to speak correctly, despite their heavy European accent, and great pride in their children not being looked upon as "children of immigrants."

I also know that many people have difficulty with language. I know three dyslexics (four if you count Endiku :-)). One is a teenager, one is 40 and one is 50. Not one of them can compose a proper letter without assistance. The 40 and 50 year olds can make it work. The teenager has decided he can't do it. He has basically built himself a mental wall and, IMO, will not improve at all until he is willing to exert some extreme effort and diligence. Too bad, because he's as smart as a whip. Then we see Endiku who has invested some serious time and effort into being able to communicate well. Granted that Endiku must be an over-achiever :-P as evidenced from how much she does for herself and the world around her, but nonetheless, it shows what determination can accomplish.

But, honest-to-purple-frogs, I am tired of posts that are multiple lines of run-on sentences. I have tried to read them. I have tried to understand them, but I just can't. So now I'm the one giving up.:-( How is that right?

More importantly, how do we help fix this? I surely don't know. I have tried working with the aforementioned teenager. We had real success but it was hours and hours of work over several months. That just isn't going to happen on an open forum.

Nyaaat. Rant over. I feel better now.

Faceman 04-12-2013 08:19 PM

We fix it by teaching our children to read and write. I don't know anything about Canadian schools, but the percentage of functional illiterates we graduate from high school in the US is appalling...

NorthernMama 04-12-2013 08:26 PM

Faceman, it's the same up here. They have these new fandangled teaching methods that work for some kids, but don't work for all of them.

When I was in school, the methods were partly phonics and a great deal of repetition. No more repetition in school. No more writing drills, or spelling lists. While those things bored the heck out of me, every single kid went into high school being able to read and write. Not anymore. Seems to me, it's better to have 20% of the class bored and 90% succeed, than 20% succeed and 80% fail. Fail to learn that is; heaven forbid they should actually fail a grade! :shock:

apachiedragon 04-12-2013 08:37 PM

"No child left behind" was absolutely the worst disservice we could do for our nation's kids. All we taught them was that they don't have to work hard or learn because they will have it handed to them no matter what. The schools don't want to risk losing their funding, so they will push them through anyway, whether they are learning or not. It is sad that these days it's easier to fail a grade by missing too many days than by getting poor grades.

Missy May 04-12-2013 11:56 PM

My daughter started reading at a very young age. She did not want to be home schooled. So, until we could move to an area w a private school, the "deal" was that she could go to "day care" (aka, public school), if we sat down each day and reviewed her work as well as did a few lessons. How unfair to a child, but what else do you do???

I am here to tell you the public school system is at fault for poor writing skills, not to mention education, in general. My daughter would bring home papers w smiley faces, stars, "way to go" and "A's" on them that were more like "C" work. I would ask her WHY she didn't do it correctly (I knew she knew how to). Her answer? "b/c I don't have to [to get an 'A']". Out of the mouths of babes!! I would make her correct them. Pretty soon this type of thing became more infrequent b/c she didn't want to have to re-do her work to meet my standards, not the schools! The ONLY chance we stand is if parents take the bull by the horns b/c fighting the public school system is a losing battle.

She is now the valedictorian of her senior class, she is going to her first choice university in the fall...and she occasionally corrects my English (which leaves me w an odd feeling). :) And, she forgives me for all of those grueling after school lessons in her first few years of grade school.:D

Muppetgirl 04-12-2013 11:58 PM

I'm too scared to reply, in case I make a mistake:shock:

I try hard to have everything correct, but sometimes auto-correct takes over!

tinyliny 04-13-2013 12:08 AM

I sure know what you mean. In my case, I am certainly quite literate. But, I often don't bother to correct my typing errors, so I s'pose I might not come off that way. Pure and simple laziness.

I won't even give a post that is the Berlin Wall of solid text a second glance, unless it's required as my moderator work (argh!)

Wallaby 04-13-2013 12:09 AM

I know for myself, at least (and I'm 22 so not too far out of "teenager land"/public school), during high school it seemed like each english teacher I had had a different idea of what a run-on sentence was (for example. I still can't tell you what a noun/verb/etc would be used for. A semi-colon? What's that?!).
Some teachers said that run-ons were anything with more than 2 commas (lists not included), some said run-ons had more than one subject, others said "if you have to take a breath while speaking the sentence, that's a run-on." And these were Honors and IB (like AP) English teachers who should have known their stuff. Eventually I just gave up and started ignoring those parts of class because each time I would master one "technique," a new and different rule would come along and my previously mastered technique would be "wrong."

End result = I have no idea what a run-on actually is. I know I do it alllll the time and I can definitely pick a run-on out of a paragraph, but ask me how to fix it and I'll stare at you blankly. Sure, I suppose most run-ons could be broken into short little statement-type sentences but that would make for some seriously boring posts.
I do try to combat my horror-grammar by using my "enter"-key liberally and breaking up each post, to hopefully lend space for understanding, but yeah.

I'm sorry. :oops:

tinyliny 04-13-2013 12:13 AM

If you want to see run-on sentences, read a British newspaper. I find them to be written as if there were a tax on periods, but a surplus of commas.

DraftyAiresMum 04-13-2013 12:41 AM

I am two hard semesters away from my bachelor's degree in English lit or three hard semesters away from my teaching cert as a high school English teacher. However, I have second-guessed my decision to be a high school English teacher. Why, you ask? Let me explain.

When I was in high school, our teachers expected us to have a basic understanding of the English language and its rules. They were not there to teach us the basic grammar and spelling skills we were expected to have mastered by the fourth grade, they were there to teach us about literature and help us learn to write pre college-level papers. Because I have always been good with words, many of my classmates came to me to help them proof-read their papers. I also helped my mom grade papers from her fourth graders.

Fast forward to a few years ago as I was helping my niece (then a sophomore in high school) edit a paper for her English class. My niece is a very smart girl. Imagine my confusion when it seemed as though a third grader had written this supposedly high school level paper. There were grammatical atrocities, spelling errors, and she used text speak, even! :shock: I asked her, not unkindly, why it was that there were so many errors in her paper. She replied that she had never really learned about grammar from any of her teachers and didn't understand why using text speak was wrong.

Thus began my quest to find out where the disconnect was between what was supposedly taught in grade school and what was being used in high school. I found apathetic teachers whose hands were being proverbially tied by the system. I found students who had no accountability for their lack of interest or inability to process and use what was being taught. Finally, I spoke to my high school band director (who is now a high school vice principal, but who was, at the time, a history teacher). He shared my disgust with what the education system had come to. He also let me in on the secret that it has become the parents who have taken a lot of the joy out of teaching (not all parents, of course, but the ones who feel that their Johnny is entitled to an A because he's "speshul" and shouldn't have to do the work required because it was too "hard").

That was when I decided that I didn't want to be a teacher anymore. I wanted to be a teacher to share my love of literature and the nuances of the English language with my students. Not to teach them basic grammar that they should have learned in elementary school.

I'm right there with you on having trouble reading posts with run-on sentences and the like. I have found myself many times having to hold my inner "grammar nazi" in check. Heck, I'm so bad that I have been known to point out grammatical errors in already published works by well-known (and some not-so-well-known) authors. Maybe I should become an editor...
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