Okay. I'll go back on what I said last week. I'm a hypocrite. Here comes the lecture:
"Kids don't even know how to write a sentence these days. I know it. I can see when they start working for me out of college."
There it is in a nutshell. A person's argument about the state of education. Education must suck because kids can't write a sentence these days.
I'm going to disagree with anyone who's said that.
First off, if a sentence is written so poorly you can't tell what they said, why are you interviewing, or even hiring, these people?
Meanwhile, I see it every day in my classes. Kids can write sentences. They sit down, they have an idea, they put it on paper. Rarely does a kid sit there and not write anything because they can't do it. They can write a sentence. They can put a thought on paper.
Here's what the person who says the quote that opens this blog post means though. That sentence isn't grammatically correct. There are typos.
And here's where I say it.
People who nitpick grammar and typos as a way to negate what someone says is taking the easy way out.
Grammar is not as important as thought. Grammar is there to help transmit thought, but must of us are smart and we can still see what someone means if the grammar is slightly off. If there's a mispelling, you can still figure things out. Usually, there's context.
Want an example? Okay.
"I don't want to change Mommy."
"I don't want to change, Mommy."
Means two different things, doesn't it? You're all uppity right now. Ready to give me an example like this.
Well guess what. Rarely is that going to be the only sentence in the piece. You're going to have more to go on to figure it out. Something that follows it up, like:
"Well too bad, Sally. What you're wearing is completely inappropriate for church."
Wow. I guess now you can figure out which one was correct, can't you?
See, people who nitpick grammar don't want to go deeper. They don't want think deeply about what a person is saying and either criticize or agree with the thought. They just want a simple reason to be able to write the person off.
Like just looking at test scores to analyze a teacher's ability.
I once said people take typos too seriously. Spelling mistakes are the least of my worries. When I said that a person responded, "It amazes me that someone in education can be so anti-intelligence."
I was incensed. I am not anti-intelligence. In fact, the person who said that is anti-intelligence. I want people to think about their writing. I want people to find meaning in what they say. I want people to get thoughts on paper, to think about what they're talking about and say something smart about it.
You want to make a spelling mistake? You want to misplace a comma? Fine. I'll figure it out.
When we teach writing, we go from from fluency, to clarity, ^to stamina^ to correctness.
You correct last. The importance is the thought and getting it on paper. The rest comes in revision and editing.
Does a mistake take people out of the writing? Yes. But you can get right back in it.
Am I saying a paper should be riddled with typos and errors in grammar? No. It would be unreadable.
But most kids going into the work force have a basic knowledge of grammar and usage. They can write a sentence. It's tough to be 100 percent right 100 percent of the time... in anything. Especially in the internet--"I can look that up right now and prove you wrong"--era.
It's up to you to think about what they're saying more than how they're saying it. But that's not what people in power often want. They don't want people to think. They don't want people to criticize and/or create. They want them to be able to do the simple technical things.
Do what the man says, do it right and don't think too much about it.
That's why grammar is so important to these people. It's rules. And when you break the rules, what you say becomes invalid.
At least to them.
People who don't want to think.