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Your kids' homework

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by sporting_guista, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. For those of us with children, are you as appalled as I am as to how poorly they write? I have two in high school and neither one could pull off a 500-word book report without making you reach for the barf bag. Says little for the way kids are taught, and it says plenty about the kids and their habits. They clearly don't read enough, don't read what they write and aren't interested in improving.

    I'll give you one gem as an example:

    One of mine wrote a book report on Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie" and in one section she's recounting some dialogue with this crap: "Then Mitch goes, "I love you" and Morrie goes "I love you too". I could have killed the kid. Using "goes" instead of said; it was wretched and there was worse.

    It's gotten to the point where they don't show me homework/reports and suddenly I'm the bad guy--the bad guy who has basically rewritten a lot of their stuff on many occasions.

    OK, that's my rant. Anyone else with similar experiences?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    In my experience, most people can't write. Which is lucky for us, I guess.

    My biggest problem with school is that they teach that seven-sentence paragraphs, topic sentence kind of writing, which just makes writing more boring and long-winded than it needs to be.

    However, as a parent, if your kids are in high school and they make you want to reach for the bar bag with their writing, not sure you can blame the school system 100 percent for that.
  3. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    I think one problem is that most elementary school teachers don't teach writing well. I was fortunate because my daughter had a third-grade teacher who was a very good writing teacher, and I volunteered in the class.

    I think another problem is - and this might sound weird - that teachers are encouraged to get advanced degrees, Masters and PhD. I think what happens is that teachers write in the academic style of 100-word sentences and complex ideas that THEY forget how to write. They expect papers to be like that instead of teaching basic structure.

    My cousin is a music teachers and we were talking once about the idea of having teachers paid differently because of their specialty - it was hard to find math and science teachers, so I said maybe they should be paid a little more. My cousin said that if anybody should be paid more, it should be English teachers since that is the hardest job.

    And the other thing, SG, is that you probably have improved your own writing a lot since middle school. Also, if you are a writer, you take the writing more seriously and are around other people who are interested in good writing. My guess is that all of the people you hang out with don't change the motor oil when they are supposed to. I bring that up because among people who take their cars seriously and do their own repairs, that is something they would take seriously.

    Put yourself in the position of teacher. If you screamed like an old-time crazy editor when somebody used the "Mitch goes, Morrie goes", you probably wouldn't be very effective with the kids. You probably should tell them "Never, Never, Never, Never do that again" and then ask how they were going to do it to reinforce what you are saying.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Actually, her report is probably better written than the book. At least it's credible.
  5. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    It's not taught any better in college.

    Dr. J turns 28 in two weeks. Over the past three years I've read a lot of his stuff and was surprised at how terrible his papers were.

    Then he got As on them and I understood.

    They're teaching this crap.
  6. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Are writing sections part of the standardized tests? If not, then they're not teaching it. They don't have time.

    And I agree Farmer J, they're teaching this crap. Wanna really cry over student writing? Go to your local law school.
  7. spup1122

    spup1122 Guest

    FarmerJ is right. I had horrible writing teachers in college. My best teacher was probably my creative writing professor and he basically slapped us upside the head if we wrote "then he goes, then she goes," etc.

    I was grateful for him once I got into my thesis course for my major. My professor touted my thesis as the best in the class with the most solid writing. He said it was publishable with a few edits. When he went through it with red ink, I felt like the entire thing was written in red. Then he told me that was nothing compared to most of the works that get turned in for publishing. He said most of them have to be completely ripped up and rewritten. I don't know if that's true, but he said he's had more than one paper written up because it had a good premise but was written poorly.
  8. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Where did you all learn to write? I ask, because I don't remember when/where I did. I think I've been fairly above average since I learned to write (I've found papers I wrote in middle school that weren't terrible, especially compared to stuff my younger sister has had me proofread, and she's in college). But I don't remember any teacher that made me go "Wow, I really learned a lot about writing from you." I know I had a teacher in HS in whose class I realized how much I enjoyed writing, but he didn't teach me how to do it effectively. He just assigned us a ton of papers and made me realize how much I enjoyed it.
  9. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    When I was in high school I could barely write a coherent sentence. Hell, I laugh at some of the early articles I wrote for a paper when I was 18.

    My (college) freshman comp teacher got me started on writing well (or at least better), and my first ME brought me the rest of the way.
  10. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    AOL = Death of the Language.

    Kids spend 5 hours a day typing and texting 'wassup nm, u' (extra credit if the actually used the comma), and less than an hour a day in english class writing complete sentences.

    Writing cleanly for most people is like having to dress up once a week to go to church...it's not comfortable, or easy, or routine. It's a chore they do badly when they have to.

    I'm completely convinced you can either write or you can't. Some people can draw, some can sing, some can hit a fastball...they don't know why they can, it's just in them. Others can practice and try and learn, but it will never come as easily as it does for those who can just do it. Same with writing. Either you hear the language, or you don't.
  11. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Well, 21 nailed a big part of the problem ... the chat room.

    In a larger sense, though, I don't think that youth in this era have a good sense of the wall between "formal" and "informal." You know, it's like how you used one language at home and another language around your friends.

    Today, it's like that in all forms of communication, except that the line has become blurred. Youth think that their informal way of talking, writing, communicating is so cool that this is the only way they will communicate. To them, there is nothing WRONG with saying, "So he goes..." Just as they think there's nothing WRONG with using "U" for "you."
  12. hacknaway

    hacknaway New Member

    What annoys me is that spelling is not emphasized, either. I have a fourth and third grader, and all the teachers care about is that the kids sound out the word and spell it the way it sounds. Therefore, you get peepil and forgotun instead of people and forgotten (those were recent words on my kids' papers). I wasn't taught that way in school, and it really annoys me that there is no effort made to encourage spelling. I understand this through first grade, but once the kids can read proficiently, there's no excuse for the schools not to emphasize spelling.
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