Monday, February 18, 2008

Something is Missing from the High School English Classroom

The main reason I decided NOT to major in English Education and simply get my BA in English was that I didn't want to grade papers.

I am reminding myself of this fact today, having just finished grading a slew of papers written by high school seniors. Why am I grading papers? Because an English teacher asked me to help her two years ago; today I am a professional paper grader. OK...so I'm only a paper grader for one teacher. The only reason I do it is because she pays me...very little, but when your husband is getting an advanced degree and you are a stay at home mom...you'll do what you have to to pick up an extra $50 here and there.

Every year, I become more and more frustrated with the poor writing (and communicating) skills of high school students. I don't know if the teachers are not teaching or the students are just not learning. It only gets more frustrating as high school students turn into college students who still don't know how to write. I know this because I also grade papers for my husband (who is currently on leave from the university where he teaches to work on his doctorate).

I'm frustrated with the immature and casual tone used by most students. The papers they are writing are supposed to be scholarly, but the sure don't sound it. Thesis statements in these papes are short and silly. A sample of the kind of theses I have been reading would be something like, "I think gambling is bad." Please, tell me how that qualifies as a thesis!?! Poor organization & grammar likewise plague the sad pages. Not to mention the horrible spelling and punctuation errors that grace these short works of horror. I wish I was overstating the point...I'm not. If they were just writing blog posts, it would be just fine, but they are writing research papers!

So...what am I going to do about it? I guess until I get my Masters...I'll just keep grading papers hoping that my comments and edits will help these students to learn something about the joy that is writing.

2 comments:

Doug & Jessica said...

Oh yes I know what you mean! Haha of course I haven't been grading papers but my english class last semester was horrible! We proof read papers all year and I wondered sometimes if my class mates were really in college. I think a lot of the problem is that they can get away with writing like that a lot of the time. And I'm sorry I have no solution either!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I think a lot of it is this new mentality, "At least they are writing." Like we are to be so grateful that they picked up a pencil without a gun to their head that we should praise and worship everything they do.

I bug my little brothers all the time about their spelling, grammer, etc.