English professor Rick Diguette offers a critique of Common Core from the perspective of a college professor who has been more than underwhelmed by his recent students’ mediocre writing skills.
Originally published in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution:
Has freshman year in college become grade 12½?
Once upon a time I taught college English at a local community college, but not any more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still on faculty and scheduled to cover three sections of freshman composition this fall. But it has become obvious to me that I am no longer teaching “college” English.
Every semester many students in my freshman English classes submit work that is inadequate in almost every respect. Their sentences are thickets of misplaced modifiers, vague pronoun references, conflicting tenses, and subjects and verbs that don’t agree―when they remember, that is, that sentences need subjects. If that were not bad enough, the only mark of punctuation they seem capable of using with any consistency is the period.
I often remind them that even the keenest of insights will never receive due credit if it isn’t expressed in accordance with the rules of grammar and usage. Spelling words correctly, as well as distinguishing words that sound the same but are not, is also a big plus. “Weather” and “whether” are not interchangeable, for example, but even after I point this out some students continue to make the mistake. And while I’m on the subject, the same goes for “whether” and “rather.”
Although I’ve been tempted to write a column like this before, until now my better angel has helped me resist the temptation. Truth telling in my profession can also be hazardous to the pursuit of tenure, so that was an added incentive to keep my head down. But recent events make it impossible to ignore yet another consequence of Complete College Georgia, the legislative enactment that will hold Georgia’s public colleges hostage, financially speaking, to their students’ performance.
Has freshman year in college become grade 12½? (Atlantic Journal-Constitution)