Politicians raining on my parade as a would-be educator

I have been fighting a losing battle all semester with students who do not see the importance of plural versus possessive, capitalizing proper nouns, distinguishing between “it’s” and “its”, etc. Many won’t take the trouble to click right when Microsoft Word underlines something in red or blue to suggest a correction. I have stressed that in the world of Information Technology details matter and it is important to demonstrate the characteristic of attention to detail and conscientiousness (prized by employers and mostly genetic so it can’t be fixed on a post-hire basis).

On the very eve of the latest class, a tweet from one of America’s leaders:

Representative Greene did correct part of this a few minutes later with “*You’re for the spellcheck police.” (it isn’t possible to edit tweets once they’ve been sent out to the Interweb) But “RINO’s” remains incorrect if we’re talking about plural individuals.

I can’t tell students that they’ll never get anywhere in life if they won’t adhere to the demands of Standard English if one of our top 535 legislators (out of 200 million potential within the estimated 333 million residents of the U.S.?) got this position without being a slave to grammar and spelling.

(My other big problem is that I can’t tell them they need to accomplish something in order to be valuable since Rivian became the world’s third most valuable vehicle maker without shipping any product.)

15 thoughts on “Politicians raining on my parade as a would-be educator

  1. Not caring about English grammar worked for me. My promotions were negatively affected by my attitude, my disregard for proper English speech and grammar for a time being made my attitude opaque and I was selected for managerial grooming. However in time my speech and writing skills improved against my will and I was kicked out when those who select understood what I was saying.

  2. Reminds me of when I asked the professor, “where’s the bathroom at?” He replied, you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. So I said “where’s the bathroom at, asshole?”

  3. They’ll be on the fast track for management, precision is not required. Teach them proper power talk phrases like “let’s have a little chat”, “we [i.e., the persons doing the actual work] need to hit it out of the park”, “I reached out to X”, “I have a big ask”. Also, always use the incorrect “transpire” when you actually mean “happen”. Very important for a manager!

  4. I can give anyone who would like to learn proper spelling, usage and punctuation usage the best prescription: become the Secretary to the Dean of a law school. You should angle to be hired by a female Dean who was an English Literature major as an undergraduate, prior to studying law and focusing on the death penalty. Make sure she harbors a deep suspicion and withering disdain for email, smartphones and technology in general, and prefers to communicate via snail mail that she dictates via magnetic audio tape cassette. She must also be a micromanager who produces at least 5,000 words a day writing letters to at least a dozen people. Do that for one semester and trust me – you’ll never be able to get it wrong without feeling anticipatory pain for the rest of your life.

    Or just step back from the edge and put the Twitter account away for a while. You’re turning yourselves into an illiterate morons, you assjacks. It astonishes me that one of the most important educational products spawned by the digital communication revolution should be courses in Remedial English, Spelling and Grammar.

    And thank you to our host — for not going easy on us by giving us an “edit” button. Thus we ae forced to edit our posts in advance before hitting “post.” We may not have anything incisive or pertinent to say, but most people here seem to try to say whatever it is they’re saying a little better than they would on Twitter, for example.

  5. This is not a database/programming course, it seems. Or do you emphasize appropriate syntax and grammar from your students in technical courses as well?

    • Students at MIT and Harvard do most things better than the teachers, including spelling/grammar. But if I did find a mistake or a way to phrase something better I would point it out and there was no pushback. In the hands-on coding courses there were still write-ups of design plans and final project summaries.

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