Froshes Can't Handle Queen's English: Blame Gatsby (or Wolfsheim)

College comp teacher Kim Brooks has an ancient complaint: The kids these days don't know a participle from a predicate. 

But her diagnosis in this Salon essay is new: High school teachers wasted time with literature when they should have been teaching students to read and write. Brooks writes

[In high school] I lived for English, for reading. I spent so much of my adolescence feeling different and awkward, and those first canonical books I read, those first discoveries of Joyce, of Keats, of Sylvia Plath and Fitzgerald, were a revelation. Without them, I probably would have turned to hard drugs, or worse, one of those Young Life chapters so popular with my peers... 

Only now, a decade and a half later, after seven years of teaching college composition, have I started to consider the possibility that talking about classics might be a profound waste of time for the average high school student, the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters or inspired by the literary arts. I've begun to wonder if this typical high school English class, dividing its curriculum between standardized test preparation and the reading of canonical texts, might occupy a central place in the creation of a generation of college students who, simply put, cannot write... 

Was it really so essential that these students read Faulkner? Most of them, frankly, seem to struggle with plain old contemporary prose, the level of writing one might find in, say, the New Yorker. Wouldn't they have been better off, or at least better prepared for the type of college work most will take on (pre-professional, that is), learning to support an argument or use a comma?

I’d go further than Brooks. I question whether teaching “canonical” books and teaching English usage are part of the same general subject area. The only thing James Joyce can teach you about the comma is how to avoid using it. What book has ever been loved for its correct grammar?  

And should accredited high schools be teaching a canon of literature at all? It’s not the business of the state to be imposing taste on the citizens. Or worse, killing the taste of citizens: Although I learned to appreciate The Great Gatsby as a grownup, my first love was spoiled by a likeable English teacher with a genius for zeroing in on the most boring aspects of any text, who persuaded me that the book is about a giant pair of eyeglasses. 

But it seems vain to blame high schools for poor reading and writing skills. Age of instruction influences your likelihood of becoming proficient in a second language. It makes sense that there a would be a similar dynamic at work for fluency in a first language, in which older kids have already passed their prime for two-Rs English instruction. 

Disclosure: I am generally impressed with the ability of my fellow Americans to read and type out intelligible sentences. To get the difference between the nominative and the accusative is to grasp big ideas about action and existence, and I’m grateful so many people can pull that off. Following my general theory of 33.3, some portion of the population is never going to be comfortable with such concepts as number vs. amount or the diagramming of sentences. (I pour out a 40 in honor of that lost art.) But grammar proficiency seems like a subject that would mostly get harder as students age – regardless, irrespective and irregardless of the relative talent levels of the students. 

In fact, I’m going to say the quality of English spoken in the United States has improved dramatically since the 1970s. I’m not referring to the lamentable spread of Britishisms in U.S. English, with once-decent Americans saying things like, “I rather feel that the run-up has been spot-on, full-stop.” I mean if you ran the numbers you would find higher levels of proficiency than you did forty years ago. 

Among the many things the Department of Education is not doing with its $77 billion budget is gathering evidence on first-language proficiency, which hasn’t been measured since the National Assessments of Adult Literacy in 1992 and 2003. I hope there are better studies out there but haven’t found any yet. In the absence of survey results, I argue from anecdote: When I was a wee lad, you heard people saying “ain’t” and “youse” every day. (Not in our house! But every day.) In 2011, if a person says either “ain’t” or “youse,” there is a high probability he or she is fronting. Meanwhile, petty tyrannies such as the prohibitions on split infinitives and terminal prepositions have collapsed like communism. 

David Mamet, the canonical and post-grammatical playwright, gets an interesting profile from Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard. Mamet's attack on American universities raises the disturbing possibility that trying to teach composition to late-blooming business majors is not the only useless activity on campus: 

“If we identify every interaction as having a victim and an oppressor, and we get a pellet when we find the victims, we’re training ourselves not to see cause and effect,” he said. Wasn’t there, he went on, a “much more interesting ... view of the world in which not everything can be reduced to victim and oppressor?”

This led to a full-throated defense of capitalism, a blast at high taxes and the redistribution of wealth, a denunciation of affirmative action, prolonged hymns to the greatness and wonder of the United States, and accusations of hypocrisy toward students and faculty who reviled business and capital even as they fed off the capital that the hard work and ingenuity of businessmen had made possible. The implicit conclusion was that the students in the audience should stop being lab rats and drop out at once, and the faculty should be ashamed of themselves for participating in a swindle—a “shuck,” as Mamet called it.

Ferguson keeps priming the reader for a payoff in which leftwing academia savages Mamet for what we are told is a recent turn to the right. The savaging never really arrives, and I think Mamet – whose work was taught to me in a college class in the eighties – is not going to get the blacklisting the Standard promises. I don’t see how anybody familiar with Oleanna or The Untouchables could have thought Mamet was ever a reliable comrade of the New Left. 

Meanwhile, our former [and future?] colonial masters are still arguing over another ancient koan: Are Asterix comics or the sports page more appealing to boys than the works of Mr. William Shakespeare, Ms. Jane Austen and Mr. Chuck Dickens? 

The Daily Telegraph reports that a mere nine percent [per cent?] of British [English?] boys aged 11-14 named English [British?] as their favo[u]rite subject in [at?] school. “If you have a 13 year-old who won’t read then sit him down with the sports section of a tabloid,” a professor of educational psychology urges the paper. “It’s more important to get their reading level up than to try and get them to read great literature.” 

When asked to name a work or writer they did not like, however, 20 percent of UK boys were apparently able to name one of Shakespeare's plays, "including The Tempest, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream." So in that respect they still seem to be ahead of us. 

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  • oo||

    lol wut r u talking about... i red litratur in high skool and i can rite good...

  • the real OO||

    fuck you, imbesil

  • the fake OO||

    piss off, douchebag

  • Again||

    This is the worst chat room ever.

  • Hipster Doofus||

    Grammar is a good SWPL signal. Nothing can signal your SWPL bona fides like impeccable grammar.

  • Robert||

    Nothing can signal your language mala fides like too much abbr'n. What's "SWPL"?

    Short Wave Propagation Loss?
    Single Wing Penetration Lane?
    SouthWest Pittsburgh Location?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    ^^THIS, GODDAMMIT!!!**

  • ||

    I had to look it up. I was trying to figure out what narrowly-designated identity group from the gay community it was describing. I came up with:

    Single White Protestant Lesbian

  • Mr Whipple||

  • Linguistics||

    Google has been and always shall be your friend.

    First result, champ. Common meme. Lern2internetz

  • ||

    Grammar is a good SWPL signal.

    The Ability to quote the Dave Chappelle show is a better one...

    Which of course proves that a good SWPL signal signifies nothing.

  • ||

    Good thing Kim Brooks was able to take a swipe at Christian youth with that Young Life remark, otherwise her piece wouldn't have been acceptable to her secularist overlords on the left.

    Let me get the hierarchy of her thinking right:

    Great: Sylvia Plath
    Not too good: hard drugs
    Horrible: Christian youth groups.

    What a sanctimonious cunt.

  • cmace||

    i thot you all left today

  • ||

    Haha. I didn't even take a shower today in anticipation. Those kooks need to learn how to read a bible.

  • zip||

    I think you meant "lern2bible"

  • LC||

    Poor sloopy, somebody made fun of his religious beliefs. Boo fucking hoo.

  • ||

    Shit, the comment says more about her than it does me. I can't remember when the last time I made a smug remark meant to make fun of an entire religion or non-religion.

    If she'd rather read Plath than be part of a social group of her peers, then more power to her. I'm just saying the smartass dumbass remark keeps her in good stead with her secularist masters. Besides, Plath was a joke of a writer. She should have offed herself at 17 and saved us all the tedium of reading the crap she wrote for another 13 years.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters or inspired by the literary arts

    I wonder if that might be part of the problem right there.

  • ||

    the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters or inspired by the literary arts shouldn't be because they can't write a paragraph ...

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    In Defense of Elitism, by William A. Henry III (a Democrat but anti-Marxist), thought that we had too many colleges and college grads (in the mid-90s). He might be on to something there: too much white collar + not enough blue collar = factories in China. Though if I had it my way, we'd all be white collar and robots would do the entirety* of the manufacturing.

    *Probably misspelled.

  • ||

    Well, with so many people in debt because of student loans, I'd probably agree with his conclusions, even if I disagreed with his methodology. The problem is, too many groups of blue collar workers overvalue their usefulness, leading to horribly overinflated salaries. This leads to jobs moving overseas where labor costs considerably less, leaving a lower percentage of blue collar jobs, which causes more people to go back to school and get an education (as well as the accompanying debt), which makes them feel they are "entitled" to a white collar job.

    Also, the [cough] variety [cough] of classes offered in universities today more or less guarantees a degree to anyone willing to incur 5-6 years worth of student loans.

  • WasabiPeas||

    Minimum Wage Laws = Factories in China

  • WasabiPeas||

    Minimum Wage Laws + Stoopid Immigration Policy = Factories in China

  • see you and raise you||

    the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters nor inspired by the literary arts shouldn't be because they can't write a paragraph ...

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    My 12th grade English teacher taught The Hobbit as part of her "British literature" curriculum. I still haven't forgiven her.

  • Jordan||

    Why? It sure beats the hell out of Shakespeare and all the other "classic" dreck.

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    You haven't experienced Shakespeare until you've heard it in the original Klingon.

  • Adonisus||

    I have never seen "The Hobbit" mentioned in a negative light until now.

  • ||

    You'll hear more negative about it once Peter Jackson get's through fucking it up.

  • ||

    The Movie will easily be better then the book.

    Hell this happened in the cartoon:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y30LAj502mY

    and it was better then the book.

  • Jordan||

    You must be the type of person who actually likes Tom Bombadil.

  • jasno||

    Hey, fuck you. TB is the original fantasy libertarian. He lives in the middle of nowhere, has a hot wife, kicks ass, and lives by his own standards.

    Omitting TB was one of the greatest sins of the Jackson movie adaptation.

    Also, yes, Jackson will fuck up the Hobbit as well, because deep in his heart he hates Tolkein.

  • twv||

    Jackson surely does not hate Tolkien. This is silly.

    But that doesn't mean he really "gets" Tolkien.

    Jackson is one of those modern readers who just wants to hug a hobbit. He's a hugger, and assumes that all cultures we like (Middle Earth dwarfs, elves, wizards, men) MUST be filled with huggers.

    Tom Bombadil had to go because he wasn't a hugger. The Ents stayed in because the hobbits got to ride them, by "hugging."

  • Peter Jackson||

    Hugging is simply hobbit-rape foreplay.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    NO, the greatest screw job was making Faramir tempted by the ring. Clearly no understanding the symbolic difference between Boromir and Faramir. I am still angry about it.

  • Otto||

    I pour out a 40 in honor of [the] lost art [of diagramming sentences...]

    Mourn ya 'til I join ya, Brainerd Smith.

    I don’t see how anybody familiar with Oleanna or The Untouchables could have thought Mamet was ever a reliable comrade of the New Left.

    Perhaps not, but Glengarry Glen Ross wasn't exactly a mash note to the free market.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    a professor of educational psychology urges the paper ... "It’s more important to get their reading level up than to try and get them to read great literature."

    Try to. It's "try to", not "try and get them to read great literature". But whatevs.

  • Robert||

    I'll let that go in this context. In Bob Blumetti's instructional mss. I globally (checking for rare exceptions) change "try and" to "try to", considering the formal setting. But the context of the remark by the quoted prof might've been less formal.

  • Spiny Norman||

    No, it's try and catch. How else are you going to handle the exceptions?

  • Mr Whipple||

    I blame ebonics and rap music.

    My high school was split between college prep, and life skills. They had two English classes for each grade level, English, and Practical English. One was heavy on lit, the other was heavy on grammar. Students could actually CHOOSE. Do they still do that today?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    So black people in inner cities are to blame for the failure of everyone?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Only black people in inner cities can be rappers.

    RACIST!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Is it racist to state the both rap and Ebonics are staples of inner city black youth? That's like saying it racist to state that rural Kentuckians predominantly call their grandfather pa-paw and speak with a drawl.

  • Simon||

  • Mr Whipple||

    How many people outside of Kentucky do that?

    There are plenty of white, suburban, wannabe rappers.

    (Is that the proper use of a Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarvaaaaaaaaard comma, Robert?) Fucking white shoe boys

  • Butts Wagner||

    Only black people in inner cities can be rappers.

    Seriously. Kanye West anyone?

  • Robert||

    Did you choose the Impractical English, your excuse for the comma in "between college prep, and life skills" and "English, and Practical English"?

    BTW, I like the serial comma, but those ain't no serial commas, if that's what you're thinking.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Since when do they put commas in Frosted Flakes?

  • Robert||

    Did you use to listen to "Post Serial" on WCWP?

  • Vampire Weekend||

    who gives a fuck about an oxford comma?

  • Mr Whipple||

    I'm comma to get ya

  • Almanian||

    Spittin' out lyrics
    Homey I'm witcha

  • Nipplemancer||

    i came to get down
    i came to get down
    so get out yo seat
    and Jump Around!

  • ||

    Could this be some kind of meta-point about how many people teach grammar by being condescending pricks?

  • Achtung Coma Baby||

    "I blame ebonics and rap music."

    EXACTLY!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Because it's apropos to the conversation, is comma supposed to be misspelled in your tag?

  • ||

    Look, it's just another step in the dumbing down of America in general.

    Here's a story in a Sarasota paper in 1930 about a boxer coming to the states. Notice how descriptive and well-formulated the article is? Remember, this was in the midst of the Depression when a minority of people attended school past the 3rd grade as well as 50 years before the US Dept. of Education was founded and 80 years before our federal government spent $75B in that department.

    Now, this is a random story on the same paper's front page today.

    Which one is written better? Which one is meant to engage the reader with compelling detail?

    Let's all face facts: as a society, we've dumbed down our writing to the least common denominator. We've mirrored that dumbing-down in our education systems at the same pace.

  • Richard||

    Lowest common denominator.

  • D'oh||

    Wikipedia says both are correct.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    But one of them sounds like the speaker is a bloody limey bastard.

    It's all but wearing a red coat with white sashes.

  • Robert||

    No, it's not. Nothing British about either. However, math pedants will insist on "least", insisting numbers have no height. The same pedants who insist on no "and" to go after "hundred" or "thousand". Grrr.

    "Lowest" I like better here because there's no chance of mistaking it for an adverb for "common" instead of another adjective. In this case a comma between the adjectives would not help, because they're not independent adjectives for "denominator", but nested adjective-noun constructs.

  • ||

    From Wikipedia: In mathematics, the lowest common denominator or least common denominator (abbreviated LCD) is the least common multiple of the denominators of a set of vulgar fractions.

    BTW, are vulgar fractions the ones that moon zero and beat their dicks in front of negative integers?

  • JoJo Zeke||

    Does anyone else here see the irony inherent in an argument over "lowest common denominators" and "dumbing down" being fought by means of dueling Wikipedia citations... or is it just me? ;)

  • ||

    Does anyone else here see the irony inherent in an argument over "lowest common denominators" and "dumbing down" being fought by means of dueling Wikipedia citations... or is it just me? ;)

    ^^Somebody gets it.^^

  • Ted S.||

    And yet the 1930 story misspells "guttural".

  • ||

    Good catch. I guess Edward Neil forgot to enable spellcheck when he wrote the piece.

  • rather||

    What's happened to the word guttural? A phonetic (or folk-phonetic) term for the articulation of consonants near the back of the vocal tract now gets applied to everything from sexual obscenities to New Jersey politics. How did it end up in the metaphorical gutter?

    The simple explanation is that guttural has fused in many people's minds with gutter, particularly in the attributive sense of 'low-down, dirty, vulgar,' as in gutter politics or gutter mouth. So this is an eggcornic confusion. But in which direction is the eggcorn heading? Is it simply a substitution of gutter with the similar-sounding guttural? Or has guttural already changed its sense under influence from gutter, to the point that the word might more accurately be spelled as gutteral? Note that both of the above examples are from media transcripts of public speech; even if a transcriber wanted to represent the word as gutteral, an officious spellchecker, computerized or human, would quickly "correct" it to guttural. (For examples of gutteral in unedited text, see the Eggcorn Database.)

    Perhaps it doesn't matter whether we understand this phenomenon as a replacement of gutter with guttural, or as a reanalysis of guttural as gutteral (meaning 'of or in the gutter'). Either way, guttural and gutter have been phonetically and semantically conflated. A more interesting question is how this conflation developed in the first place.

  • Robert||

    Also something wrong in the sentence spanning end of col. 1 & start of col. 2. Not sure if he meant "thru" instead of "three" or what.

  • Robert||

    Also interesting is the selection of stories on the page -- aviation as sport, a commercial fishing disaster and exhibition boating covered under sports. I bet Sarasota papers no longer give top billing to their local minor league in baseball scores, and probably not college rowing as to the page in general. Boxing was also a lot bigger then. Notice also the wrestling stories at bottom left.

  • Robert||

    On 2nd look, there's also a col. with a business and a crime story, so I guess I can't assume everything on the page was considered sports.

  • ||

    I already hate this paper. Look at the advertisement in the bottom right corner of page 8.

    Top Hat.
    Waxed moustache.
    Cane.
    (Monocle assumed to be on right eye.)
    Woman cowering away.

    I can relate.

  • Richard||

    In high school, there were separate courses in English composition and English literature. Both were required. When did that change?

    Shakespeare was an elective. It was a pretty popular class, IIRC.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    For me, at least, learning a second language in high school was an excellent way to learn the grammar of my first. Although Russian grammar, with its stupid use of cases, is rather different from English, learning it helped my understanding of English grammar.

    I've forgotten it all now, of course.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    German is cased too, but there are only four, and you get to learn the origin on the who/whom distinction.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, after taking German in college it dawned on me that perhaps our reliance on word order instead of case endings was more the exception than the rule in our world of languages, and probably inferior. But we're Americans, dammit, and we're going to talk American and count in dozens.

    Ironically, I now realize I was taught Russian by translating classic Russky fables. I can't tell you how many times put-upon peasants were taught life lessons by ursine counselors back in the day. In any case, I don't think I was struggling through great works of Russian literature.

  • ||

    But we're Americans, dammit, and we're going to talk American and count in dozens.

    That's nothing compared to the limeys' use of "stone" as a unit of weight and their fucked up way of counting money.

    And...fuck the metric system and it's rigid system of 10's anyway.

  • Trespassers W||

    Er... The Brits have been on a decimal currency system for, what, only forty years now?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Moi, j'aime beaucoup le systeme metrique.

    Need some accents in there.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    alt 0233, é, see?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    AND I don't see a need for the accent aigu in your sentence but now you know for future reference.
    (it is for the long e as in the passé composé form of parler, parlé)

  • ||

    And...fuck the metric system and it's rigid system of 10's anyway.

    never understood why the fuck they used base 10 to measure actual stuff.

    12 can be divided in half in quarters, thirds and 6ths

    10 you can only divide evenly in 5 and in half.

    Who was the friggin genius who thought 10 would be better then 12 when measuring things one might actually want to divide into parts???

  • PantsFan||

    The Sumerians used base 60.

  • WasabiPeas||

    How many fingers you got?

  • ||

    Eight. How about you?

  • Cliché Bandit||

    +2

  • Linguistics||

    The evidence is actually that English is superior to at least some languages. Despite Viking and Norman invasion, English "stuck around" for some reason. This is atypical.

  • ||

    Italian and Spanish have more in common with Latin than Modern English has in common with Old English (which was a cased language, btw).

  • ||

    The urgency for adopting the metric system is pretty much gone in the computer age, when unit conversions are extremely easy to do at any time and place.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Still saves time and makes us look a little bit less irrational.

  • KWebb||

    Yeah, after taking German in college it dawned on me that perhaps our reliance on word order instead of case endings was more the exception than the rule in our world of languages, and probably inferior.
    I'll take relying on word order over having to memorize different endings for words and lists of prepositions that only take certain cases. Word endings were always one of the banes of my existence in languages.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

    I completely failed to grasp English grammar until I learned Latin.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The English language was infected by fans of the Vulgate and their Latin rules.

  • Res Publica Americana||

    I'm fluent in Russian and English, and I've been learning Italian. Dependence on a finite number of word orders is considerably more intuitive, at least for me.

  • Sacre Bleu!||

    You can't just condemn public education outright. It has done so much for us.
    Public education helped change economic conditions. One didn't need formal education to run a machine in a cotton mill or a coal mine in 19th century Britain. But as education became a societal norm, more people had the opportunity to leave the cotton mills behind them.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Bananaphone.

  • ||

    RING RING RING RING RING RING RING

  • Cliché Bandit||

    NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    damnit...at LEAST 48 hours now...jerks.

  • ||

    But as education became a societal norm, more people had the opportunity to leave the cotton mills behind them.

    replace education with:
    electricity
    mass production
    the steam engine
    automobiles
    tractors
    private property rights
    emigration
    immigration
    availability of medicine

    I would imagine this list had a lot more to do with those people leaving the mills than public education.

  • Sacre Bleu!||

    Regardless, access to education benefits society as a whole, and it's been successful precisely because those collective actions were taken.

  • ||

    Regardless, access to education benefits society as a whole, and it's been successful precisely because those collective actions were taken.

    Correct. Just as it did 3000 years ago, 2000 years ago, 1000 years ago and 100 years ago, at the advent of the progressive era that brought public education to America en masse. (Up to that point, a majority of American youth attended private schools.)

    As far as it's success being attributed to "collective actions," I agree. Once those "collective actions" ceased to be by voluntary collective groups and came under the auspices of the government, however, the success of our students has been in a steady decline.

  • Sacre Bleu!||

    I was speaking of universal access to education which is not available under a private system.

  • ||

    Yes it is. Anyone in a private system can either send their kids to a private school, open one of their own or teach their kids themselves.

    Access to teaching materials has almost always been universal, just not free. Anyone who wanted to be educated, or wanted their children to be educated, had every opportunity to do so since almost the dawn of man.

  • Mr Whipple||

    There's also the possibility of voluntary charitable funds, instead of coercive government taxation, to provide education for people who can not afford it.

  • ||

    When I went to high school in the Cincy-Dayton area, I'd say about 1/3 to 1/2 of the kids went to private schools. Of those that did, a big chunk of them did it for free or for a reduced tuition that got subsidized by the parish, which had a fund set up for it.

    Again, that was 22-25 years ago, but I'd be willing to bet those churches and schools still have the same relationship. From just a cursory search, each of the schools I remember playing basketball and running track and x-country against are still going and have around the same enrollments.

  • WasabiPeas||

    I diverge from the libertarian norm on this point. I think the state should provide the means for universal education, as long as the stuff being taught is not determined by the state. I don't know exactly how this would be implemented, but I think it is a good idea.

  • SFC B||

    I don't think that this is incompatible with most libertarian doctrine (at least as I understand it). The biggest issue, from my perspective, is that "the state" has shifted from "local school districts" to "Federal Department of Education".

    There is hole big enough to drive a truck through between "the government should provide everyone the chance to go to school" and "everyone must follow this education plan sent down from DC".

  • ||

    Sorry, no. Catholic immigrant groups were one of the big success stories of the early to mid 20th century, and relatively few of them went to public schools due to the rampant anti-Catholocism that characterized public schools in that era.

  • tarran||

    In fact, the push towards public schooling was explicitly anti-catholic in that it was meant to discourage catholics (and protestants) from sending kids to Catholic schools where they would fall prey to papism.

    I suspect in Catholic countries the converse was true.

    The movement received great support from governments when they realized that public schools were also a great tool to indoctrinate children to prepare them for conscription. That's the reason that the Prussian public education system forms the basis for government schools worldwide.

  • ||

    You don't need a formal education to ask someone if they want fries with their order either.

  • Xenocles||

    Today you almost might given the state of both the job market and of formal education.

  • Robert||

    The Kim Brooks piece is exactly right, except for its (probably unintended, just because of its author's job) too great emphasis on the problem as it relates to college rather than to the world beyond and outside college. I agree with Mamet too and used to tell my undergrad students that college is a racket.

    A lot of courses are categorized as "English" basically by exclusion: it's content that doesn't fit into other major named disciplines; fiction fits automatically for being devoid of useful content. It's not really about the language and how to write it -- or in most cases, even speak it. I wonder whether it's the same deal in other languages for their native speakers & readers.

  • ||

    That's true of most wide-ranging disciplines though. When I went to high school the big 4 academic tracks we had to get four years of to graduate were Social Studies, Language Arts (the hippie generation's name for English), Math, and Science. Science is pretty well-defined, but the other three had no rhyme or reason for what went where. For instance, what does geometry have to do with the rest of high school math?

  • ||

    And yes, I know that math is commonly defined as the body of logical implications of the set theory axioms (or something like that). That's not how it's presented in high school though, indeed in high school you don't have the tools for figuring out what the hell the set theoretic axioms imply.

  • Robert||

    But there's an important distinction there. In Social Studies, Math, and Science, you get to learn putatively useful facts. In Math, and to some extent Science, and maybe even in Social Studies, you learn skills regarding how to work with the facts. True, they do teach way too much math than most people will eventually use. But in Language Arts, a lot of what you're graded on and spend time on has nothing to do with either of those objects.

  • Skr||

    Yeah a^2 + b^2 = c^2 is right out of line with the rest of HS math. C.c

  • Hobie Hanson||

    tl;dr

  • ||

    ^^Now, that's funny.^^

  • Butts Wagner||

    Gotta agree, even if Hobie is weird.

  • ||

    He's not wierd. He's a hero!

  • Butts Wagner||

    Hobie is responsible for 911!!!!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I read the whole thing, but it was long enough to be a full-fledged article. What is it doing on Hit and Run?

  • lunchstealer||

    My English education seemed to vary either by year or by teacher. Seventh and 10th grades were predominantly grammar-centric. In 6th grade I had both reading and english classes, with one focusing on literature and the other focusing on grammar.

  • ||

    It's funny, I was just talking to someone the other day about how it's no wonder kids hate math in school because all they do is crunch through the mechanics of factorization and collecting terms and such, without ever stopping to appreciate the beauty of the subject; I conjectured that if English classes covered only the grammar and spelling of our language in the minutest detail, without stopping once in a while to appreciate the power and beauty of the language by reading great literature, students would hate English too.

    And now this person wants to turn English into the torture sessions that high school math classes are for most students. Good grief.

  • Robert||

    You're missing the problem. Crunching thru factoriz'n and collecting terms is something that most people should not be taught at all. If the math they learn is useful to them, they'll appreciate its beauty. Math has been chosen as an academic subject taught for years and years because the advanced stuff is useful to a narrow segment of the popul'n, and it's one of a great many disciplines which could be used to teach that type of thinking. They could work on that part of the brain just as well in other ways, like playing chess.

    More generally, there's just too damn much school, period.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But if people actually get to decide what they learn, based on their own definition of "utility", then how can our technocratic class construct pedagogical models for the necessary social engineering projects?

  • B||

    I agree. I never did understand the point of diagramming sentences. Maybe if we had only spent one week on it, but it kept on coming up ... and why?

    Practical experience writing (rather than reading) is another thing - but I think that can best be honed by written conversations, such as on the internet. (Serious discussions, not chat rooms.)

  • Not Sure||

    "Practical experience writing (rather than reading) is another thing - but I think that can best be honed by written conversations, such as on the internet. (Serious discussions, not chat rooms.)"

    I'm going to force my kids to keep journals, written by hand.

  • ||

    I think that can best be honed by written conversations, such as on the internet.

    Just what we need, more junior high Maxes and Hobies honing their skills on H&R.

  • Robert||

    Sentence diagramming helps some people's understanding of how to punctuate and how to write in general. Not everyone, of course. I learned sort of a flow chart method in grade school and then a line-oriented method in 7th grade.

    What needs more emphasis is paragraph diagramming.

  • ||

    OT, but Benny Hill has got to be at the pinnacle of British television. If anyone else out there has Antenna TV, it goes on for about 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday, followed by 4 hours of the Three Stooges.

    Now if only somebody could put the Little Rascals back on the tube every weekend...

  • Butts Wagner||

    I remember in middle school(gifted classes), grammar was very important, but mostly to the teacher only. Aboard about above across around at, beyond by, etc. By AP English in 11th grade, we had a teacher who was making us read and interpret Marcy Playground lyrics.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Note to Tim Cavanaugh:

    By the way, as an expert in second language acquisition, I can tell you that trying to support your argument with an 1979 paper by Krashen is akin to Ron Bailey trying to support one of his arguments in bio-ethics by citing "Ye Olde Treatise on Blood-Letting and Leeches".

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Do you have something more recent?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you have access to the TESOL Journal online?

    If not, this article by David Birdsong of the U of Texas at Austin provides a good overview of where the academic conversation is currently concerning age and SLA.

    p.s. I would provide more research, but the spam filter limits posts to two URL links. :(

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Thanks.

    Heady stuff.

    Based on the following two passages, it looks like the popular wisdom holds up — that earlier instruction correlates highly with attainment, even when you isolate or examine other factors:

    "It is widely recognized that AoA is predictive of L2A outcomes, in the simple sense that AoA is observed to significantly correlate negatively with attained L2 proficiency at the end state."

    "[S]ome experiments correlate AoA with numbers of errors or degree of foreign accent—thus resulting in positive correlation coefficients—whereas others correlate AoA with numbers of correct items or degree of nativelike accent—thus yielding negative correlations."

    The study also names one of the factors helping later learners acquire a second language: that they are already familiar with the structure of their first language. I think that would support the idea that trying to learn grammar in high school is more difficult than trying to learn it in grammar school. A late learner of his or her own language won't even have the small advantage a late learner of a second language has.

    All this seems intuitive to me, but again, I'd love to see studies. (Hold the acronyms!)

  • Butts Wagner||

    ILTSS indeed...

  • rather||

    I spoke two languages from childhood, and the ease of learning is in a child's ability to not understand that it is 2 languages.

    Sounds confusing but I can recall switching back and forth, and my only comprehension was that I needed to speak English to be understood by some, and French by others.

  • ||

    So, you spoke Huttese, which you learned from your mother Zorba Fesilijic and used to communicate with your brother, Jabba, and Rodian, which your dad taught you before Han Solo shot his ass in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

    So, when did you learn English?

  • ||

    My 4-year-old son speaks Czech and English and he is quite aware that it is two different languages. He will often ask, "How do we say - in Czech?" or "Jak se řekne -- Angličtina?"

  • rather||

    common in older children/adults but not in full immersion maternal language. Your child might just hear a foreign language from one or two sources.

    I thought in both languages.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    common in older children/adults but not in full immersion maternal language. Your child might just hear a foreign language from one or two sources.

    I thought in both languages.

    Research in neuro-linguistics backs this up. People who are raised in a true bilingual environment store their languages in a together in the same part of the brain; whereas, people who learn a second language later on store that second language in a different part of the brain from the first one.

  • rather||

    My niece only ever heard English when her parents wanted to converse privately. After a week in English kindergarten, the teacher remarked that she had never seen a child grasp a new language so quickly, and concluded 'hearing' English gave her basic skills.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The study also names one of the factors helping later learners acquire a second language: that they are already familiar with the structure of their first language. I think that would support the idea that trying to learn grammar in high school is more difficult than trying to learn it in grammar school. A late learner of his or her own language won't even have the small advantage a late learner of a second language has.

    Linguists and language educators make a distinction between learning a language and acquiring a language. Indeed, this is Krashen's big contribution to the field. Language acquistion is the natural, non-formally taught development of a language that just requires exposure. For example, when a 5 year old kid says "The dog gave the stick to me." The kid doesn't need to know that "dog" is the subject of the verb "gave", which is in its simple past form, and that "stick" is the direct object of the verb; whereas, the personal pronoun "me" is the indirect object. One doesn't really need to explicitly know the grammar rules of one's native language in order to communicate.

    Learning is the formal instruction of language. When we "teach" grammar, what we are really teaching is a set of prescriptive rules that constitute the norms of the "prestige dialect" (i.e. how the educated, in-power, class talk).

    So, I would agree with your statement if you switch "learn" with "acquire". However, when learning a second language, formal grammar instruction is indeed valuable because it allows the learner to compare and contrast the construction of one's native language (L1) to the second language (L2).

  • PantsFan||

    OT: can someone explain the Blue Man Groups appeal?

  • ||

    Um, I don't waste my time with those fucks. Please see my post above if you want to talk about solid entertainers.

  • Almanian||

    No. No one can explain that.

  • BoscoH||

    They are blue and heavily into percussion. James Cameron basically stole their act and put it in 3D. That's how awesome they are.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Everyone is hoping to see George Bluth.

  • Ted S.||

    Total ripoff of the Smurfs.

  • WasabiPeas||

    Got a beat and you can dance to it.

  • Butts Wagner||

    eiffel 65

  • Almanian||

    "I blame ebonics and rap music."

    I blame Bush.

  • ||

    Alright, it's gotta be time this gets tagged like Godwin's Law. It seems inevitable that each thread eventually devolves into Bush-blaming at about the same rate as it does to Hitler comparisons. (And, yes, I know Almanian is only being clever.)

    Therefore, I am claiming naming rights and declaring the phenomenon the Sloopy Theory. As soon as a poster blames Bush for anything in a partisan attempt to put blame where it doesn't belong, that thread is to be considered "Sloopyed."

    Oh, and we get to drink as well.

    Do I hear a second to that motion?

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    As long as the drinking part remains, I am in.

  • Jesus||

    I already did it months ago-can't find the term

  • Butts Wagner||

    Starts with a T, I believe.

  • JoshINHB||

    I blame Obama.

  • ||

    New meme is new!!!

  • ||

    Rejected on grounds that sloopy is a pretentious dick.

  • rather||

    lol

  • ||

    Haha. Duly noted.

  • rather||

    P U S S Y
    I claim it bitches, and will fight any of you to the death for naming rights.

  • ||

    Tim: In which Catholic school did you learn to diagram sentences?

  • SIV||

    I am generally impressed with the ability of my fellow Americans to read and type out intelligible sentences.

    You don't read my comments? :(

    Seriously the PSAT, SAT, GRE all seemed to think my grasp of the English language was just short of perfect.The English grammar section of the Foreign Service exam and a proofreader test at a law book publisher had a more negative opinion.I failed at assessing whether a sentence was parallel.

    FWIW, I had to read a translation of Gogol's Lost Souls in HS English class and I hated it at the time. I never read it again but the memory grows fonder.

    I never took a college English class as they thought I was too good for the required ones and I wasn't about to torture myself with any writing assignment requiring a second draft or a deadline longer than the end of class.Did the grammar ones require writing? I always figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

  • ||

    Beyond and email requiring the bare minimum of description and figures, my entire ability to communicate breaks down. I've reread my high and college papers and weep at their poverty.

  • ||

    You are not alone. We also weep at the poverty in the above post. Certainly, Lost_In_Translation is an appropriate moniker for you. Shamefully, however, you are only translating from English to English.

  • rather||

    Language does not live in a rule book but in a laboratory of life. Words are fugacious, and common usage trumps.

  • Butts Wagner||

    rather is here

  • PantsFan||

    fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

  • Butts Wagner||

  • rather's rapture||

    Butts and Pants
    writing on a thread
    arguing who will give the other head

    All I know, is I'd would rather be dead

  • PantsFan||

    pics or gtfo

  • rather's rapture||

    Ask Butts

  • Butts Wagner||

    for you rather

  • ||

    Jesus. That's worse than dicktits from last weekend.

  • Butts Wagner||

    Jesus, I thought I was the only one awake right now.

  • Jesus||

    sorry Butts, I'm not interested in a cross-species threesome with your mommy

  • Butts Wagner||

    I understand Jesus. Some people misinterpreted today as being the rapture and may have done things they now regret.

  • Butts Wagner||

    I can that again.

  • Butts Wagner||

    I understand Jesus. Some people misinterpreted today as being the rapture and may have done things they now regret.

  • Jesus||

    I have a picture that some poor girl sent me. I'll post it on my rather's blog

  • ||

    Son, are you on the computer again? I thought I told you to do the dishes and to leave those poor mortals alone.

  • Mary Magdalene Wagner||

    I'm so confused right now.

  • STEVE SMITH||

  • Butts Wagner||

    Stick to keeping your blog links in your name. It's a good thing.

  • ||

    For the father sayeth, "Yea, tho STEVE SMITH is a spoof, yet he is also precious in mine eyes and shall be loved and cherished and clung to my bosom. And she that spoofeth his name shall be cast out among the wicked and be spat upon and treated quite badly."

  • rather||

    as long as I get to play aggressor too-I go first Jesus; you have a habit of disappearing for couple of thousands of years

  • BoscoH||

    I really don't care if Ms. Brooks feels fat after her pregnancy. There is something incredibly hot about an English teacher that knows what insipid bullshit the canon is and how inapplicable it is to the communication skills that most people really need to develop.

  • B||

    I will agree that Americans today speak *more standardized* English than they used to, not necessarily *better* English. 'Ain't' and 'Youse' are perfectly legitimate English usage, just not *standard*.

    It is probably a good thing that our English language has become more standardized (and the same has happened in Great Britain and around the world) as it allows far more people to communicate easily than ever before - however, this does not necessarily make it "better".

    Otherwise, rather than say we are delaying language instruction too long, I suspect we are pushing it far too early. Teaching kindergarteners to read (unless they express a desire) will bore them and frustrate them and prevent them from learning correctly at a more appropriate age. None of the kids in my family learned to read before 1st grade, and we all ended up at the top of our respective classes.

  • ||

    . Teaching kindergarteners to read (unless they express a desire) will bore them and frustrate them and prevent them from learning correctly at a more appropriate age. None of the kids in my family learned to read before 1st grade, and we all ended up at the top of our respective classes.

    If by "more appropriate age," you mean whenever they are ready, I agree. I learned, as did my daughter, to read at least a year before kindergarten. My son learned during, but much more from me and my wife than from the school.

    Honestly, I don't think they'll even let a kid into first grade if they can't read. For one thing, it fucks up their standardized test scores. For another, it means actual work, which is usually not allowed under their CBA's.

  • ||

    Some of the smartest people I know can't write for shit. Language skills are important, but I've gotten over judging people as deficient if they habitually write poorly. People can be smart without being writers. Granted, most of them did not go college (they instead learned a trade and were making decent money while I was writing research papers), but a couple of them did get degrees in math. These people probably would have benefited from having a choice to learn to write with good mechanics instead of being forced to read Eudora Welty.

    However, good language instruction, to me, encompasses intellectual rigor and analytic skills. I took lots of English classes in college because I felt like I was learning about not just English, but history and critical thinking. That is how I try to pitch literature to people.

    Here's something I've wondered: does anybody else keep The Elements of Style handy?

  • Xenocles||

    Yes.

  • ||

    I keep Elements of Style and Oxford Guide to Writing handy at all times. I used them and On Writing Well by Zinnser in the classroom.

    I enjoyed teaching literature but most of my students hated it. If/when I ever go back to teaching, I plan to focus my instruction on writing and usage rather than dictating aesthetics to my students.

    The canon can be useful when using parts of great works to teach grammar, construction, usage, and employment of creative devices in fiction. However, I found using newspaper articles, scholarly articles, government documents, historiographic analyses and scientific studies were more satisfying and successful teaching tools.

    I think the role of the English teacher will fade over time, or English teachers will beging to co-teach or be required to have a second subject cert. When I think about all of the articles and documents and general information - in print and digital form - that we encounter everyday, it seems sensible that emphasis be placed on sharpening comprehension rather than "appreciating" great works of literature. I am not a scientist but love to read about scientific discovery; I am not an accountant but I can prepare my own taxes. I think this is due to a high level of reading comprehension (and not a small part of it is sheer nerdiness).

    I hated reading Faulkner and Plath, and the Beats do nothing for me, but I like Jane Austen and Shakespeare and Fitzgerald and Twain - where does that put me on the comprehension/appreciation spectrum? I'd love to get back all the countless dull hours I spent bent over Red Badge of Courage or As I Lay Dying, and can't conscion doing the same to students.

  • ||

    I don't think instructors can go wrong with Shakespeare, but it probably takes a talented instructor to help put the works in a meaningful context to students. I had a couple of wonderful professors who were very good at making Elizabethan England come alive, and placing Shakespeare amongst his contemporaries. I've never been able to explain exactly why, but getting a sense of Shakespeare's culture and the works of his peers helped me appreciate the actual language.

    I don't think high school kids are too dumb for Shakespeare, but most of them are too impatient for it.

    I agree with you that having good reading skills encompasses so much more than just appreciating English literature. I think that's a hard point to sell to people, though. Several of my friends absolutely refuse to read for pleasure outside of non-fiction or technical publications because they still remember, and resent, being made to feel like stupidniks because they just didn't "get" the big deal about Gatsby or Raymond Carver or whatever.

    Anybody graduating from a half-decent university should, however, be able to string together a coherent paragraph. In cases where that is not true, I do wonder how they made it.

  • ||

    It would be interesting to see an English test that consisted of giving the students the 1040 instructions and a bunch of fictitious W-2s and other tax documents and having them fill out a 1040 form. Obviously you'd have to ignore the arithmetic and focus on how well they understand the instructions, but wow would that be different.

  • Spiny Norman||

    Egad, no.

  • ||

    yes. yes. yes. the elements of style is an incredibly important reference for me.

    but not for blogs :)

  • Res Publica Americana||

    I learned English and Russian simultaneously. I'm a bourgeois communist.

  • ||

    Should be interesting to see how that all turns out.

    www.privacy-online.us.tc

  • ||

    Most of them, frankly, seem to struggle with plain old contemporary prose, the level of writing one might find in, say, the New Yorker.

    I, quite frankly, struggle with the tedious verbose windbaggery of the New Yorker.

  • Spiny Norman||

    When I was a wee lad, you heard people saying “ain’t” and “youse” every day.

    Uh...Where are you from?

  • Tom||

    "Irregardless"

    No one has commented on this yet?

  • rather||

    It is nonstandard English but accepted because of common usage.

  • DJ Drugs||

    I stopped reading the article upon reaching the "irregardless."

  • rather||

    I stopped reading the article upon reaching the "irregardless."

    Does "irregardless" work for drugs too?

  • Spiny Norman||

    He also used "regardless," so he's covered either way.

  • BoscoH||

    99% of the use of that word today is not unintentionally incorrect, but to troll the people who think they are too smart for that word to be used around them. Trust me. I drop that word frequently around people who sniff their own flatulence.

  • Robert||

    It's like "laxadaisic" and "same difference" in that regard -- started as a slip, wound up as a needle.

  • ||

    No one who has a properly working sarcasmometer, anyway.

    A sense of humor helps too.

  • ||

    I find it interesting that a column lamenting the lack of English grammar uses the word irregardless. It sort of undercuts your own understanding of English. I hated sentence diagramming in 5th grade it was awful.

  • ||

    He did it on purpose, probably just to annoy people. Cavanaugh is a good writer and knows that word isn't proper. He's trollin you, bro.

  • A Serious Man||

    Actually reading literature and writing essays analyzing the various themes of the works is great education for the smart kids, hence its usage by College Board and AP classes. Perhaps all non-honors, non-AP students should be focusing on how to write and not to read advanced works since it's doubtful that they will ever read recreationally anyway.

  • rather||

    Your remarks are not seriously thought out because of your limited definition of a reader.

    Stephen J. Cannell could not write a sentence acceptable enough to pass most university courses. He would always approach a teacher and ask if work was graded on grammatical errors, and if so, would quietly drop the course.

    He finally met a professor who said he just want to read his stories, and I believe other have enjoyed them too.

  • rather||

    *others*

  • Mythical Canadian Libertarian||

    The only thing keeping this post from being my all time Hit & Run favourite is the inclusion of the detestably unnecessary "simply put" by someone who teaches composition. That she is - correctly - regarded as the smart one on this question is cause for weeping.

    Grotesque.

  • ||

    Those guys make a lot of sense dude.

    www.privacy-online.us.tc

  • Jake||

    Richard Mithcell, the Underground Grammarian, said pretty much all that needs to be said on this subject. All of his publications are available online, just do a search for "underground grammarian".

  • GILMORE||

    I read that piece in the times not really expecting H&R to have a take on it.

    My personal views are mixed. I am and have been a reader by nature since I can remember, and learned how to read before kindergarten. I have never really understood how so many people go through life either not enjoying to read or ever developing solid critical reading skills or absorbing enough basic composition skills to be concise and intelligible. I admit: school was a very small part of my own personal development, and simply provided a complement to my own reading habits. However school did *help* teach me to write. Forcing people to regularly do composition graded *primarily* on the form rather than the content i think is crucial exercise for student development.

    Regarding choices of reading material for students... I think there are reasonable arguments both in favor and against any particular loyalty to the 'canon'. I'm not sure it matters much (or as much as people think), but i think the shared components of any case made would be that there be some effort to choose stuff that is both "hard" as well as somewhat relevant to students in some way.

    Is Gatsby relevant? Austen? To The Lighthouse, as per the alt-text?

    When I was in freshman HS english class, I didn't think so. When I was in school the prevailing themes all teachers were hooked into were race/class/gender, PC-revisionism. We would read Chinua Achebe's, 'Things Fall Apart', so we could talk about how colonialism is bad, not to really do any actual analysis of the book. 'To the lighthouse' was about gender/identity/social-mores, and maybe we'd get a little Elie Wiesel tossed in there somewhere to throw a bone (ouch!) to the Holocaust. Then we're read Jane Austen because why? Hell, they'd find an excuse. Class & gender issues in Victorian england, maybe, but usually it was just because they had dozens of copies of Pride & Prejudice laying around and teachers were lazy and would just recycle kids through the same boring lesson plans. 'Pretend this one has some sort of modern social-relevance', kind of thing.

    No, I don't think the standard HS English curriculum is very good. (*sidenote = My mom was HS English teacher her entire career) An idea that occurred to me in college was that what was missing was something more formal that went to the heart of the issue; namely - get people to study Logic, Rhetoric, and Composition as actual 'skills' courses, and if you want to also have a 'literature' program where people read fancy schmancy shit like Proust, then go right ahead, but it shouldn't be expected to teach rhetoric and composition, per se.

    Meaning, I've got nothing against the canon, or expecting kids to read stuff by Dead White People. To the contrary; i'm a freaking snob that wants kids in 7th grade quoting Cicero in latin and have intimacy with Montaigne be required for eventual acceptance into normal human society.

    But I also think basic skills are more important than the high-minded shit. And in HS, they *do* waste a lot of precious time making kids read stuff then asking them what they *think* of it; comprehension & composition is something they seem to expect comes from 'immersion', rather than any disciplined training in a rules-based 'craft'. My personal conviction is that people learn to do skills faster than they develop any particular literary sensitivities. I don't give a fuck if little Suzy Freshman *understands* or cares about all of the various feminist themes in The Awakening, but I do want her to be able to write 3 pages of sensible English that makes some kind of argument. Too often the measure is simply 'did they *get it*'. That's not good enough, in my opinion, and is where English departments fail students.

    As far as the actual canon goes, I actually am a big fan... for personal development. I don't think public schools have the capability of getting people to read everything from Herodotus to Hume and get anything out of it that they aren't already looking for themselves. But for those who *are* self-motivated... I think its better than school. I think all society owes people in this regard is access and opportunity. I don't know how much of a libertarian-heresy it is to defend public libraries, but I will say that they did me and I assume many others a great deal of good.

  • Sparky||

    What I find humorous is how speech affectations are making their way into printed language now. I mean, like why is it you have to like actually type out words that are just like place holders in speech you know? I mean, why take the time to like type all that stuff out you know? Like, every time I listen to my kids talk I want to like put a screwdriver through my ears to stop the pain, you know what I mean? I mean, why don't people like realize how much longer it takes, you know, to get their point across when like they can't like just say what they're trying to say?

    I also enjoy when people correct others' spelling or grammar and misspell or misuse grammar while doing so.

  • ChrisO||

    My take is that students should be proficient in English by the time they reach high school. Elementary and middle school was when we focused on grammar and spelling.

    English usage should only be a remedial course for high-school students, and literature should definitely be the main focus. Obviously not all students are going to become lit geeks or English majors in college, but exposure to literature in high school will benefit most students at some point in their lives.

  • GILMORE||

    ...

    remind me again, ... THIS is begging the question, right?

    exposure to literature in high school will benefit most students at some point in their lives.

    OK. Why again? You don't say.

  • han||

    English usage should only be a remedial course for high-school students

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