Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Friday, January 13, 2006

If you think I'm crazy

This blog will feature e-mails from my students. E-mail: the demise of higher education as I once knew it. It is my theory that e-mail creates a feeling of anonymity among students. Said students then e-mail instructors with insane questions that they would never DARE ask to an instructor's face (or over the phone, for that matter.) Many of my close friends and family often accuse me of exaggerating my students' lack of writing skills AND their chutzpah. My response: I wish. I'll get started with one of my favorites:

hi professor this is joe blow i have a question in regardsto my movie review papaer grades and why they are all a 25 out of 40 fora grade i beleive i covered the reviews of the material fully indepthand also my punctuation an spelling were average if not above. pleaseeamil me back with the reason why. thanks your very much joe blowoh ps werent we aloud to revise them or at least one of them for ahigher grade if so. i was wondering if i could do that also before theend of the semester thank you.

An excerpt from my official response in soothing green:

If I may, some basic pointers that may help you if decide to start rewriting your papers this evening: One of your most common errors, (due to typos or confusion, I am not certain) is the difference between the singular and the plural of the word woman. A woman is singular. 1 woman. Women is plural. More than one woman. The difference between singular and plural nouns, which may seem small and insignificant to you, is a basic grammar rule that should be adhered to; in my opinion, it demonstrates a fundamental grasp of the English language. A few more notes:
~ God is a proper noun and is therefore capitalized.
~ A, an, and the are called “articles.”
~ The is called a definite article because it refers to a specific thing.
~ A and an are called indefinite articles because they refer to general things.
~ The word and is a part of speech that we call a conjunction.
~ Some other conjunctions (specifically, coordinating conjunctions) are for, nor, but, or, yet and so. Throughout your papers, you use the words an and and interchangeably. Again, I am not certain if this is because you do not understand the differences between these two parts of speech, or if you simply don’t proof-read (or even grammar check) your papers.

The noun “today” which means “this day” is one word. Just one. In contrast, “too” is an adverb. It means also, in addition to, as well. “Joe and I went to the concert, too.” You seem to have more than one instance where you use these two words interchangeably. The word “myself” is a first-person pronoun. It is just one word, written as “myself.” Not “my self.”

What I really wanted to write (in riotous red):

When you go home for winter break, I highly recommend you do the following:

1.) Put down your cell phone/Blackberry/other text messaging device.

2.) Unplug your iPod/television/computer/anything that plugs in/requires a battery and/or charger and is not made of paper.

3.) Pick up a book. (You've seen these before. Typically, they're expensive, sometimes heavy and you hold them at the beginning and end of the semester when they are exchanged for money. They can also be found for free at a place called a library. Some Americans even have them around in their homes. Although rumors abound about these so called "books," don't be afraid. They are not fear biters. The worst you can expect from handling a book for any length of time is a paper cut, and even then, that's only in extreme cases of very sharp new paper.)

4.) Read.

5.) Repeat.

6.) Astonish and amaze your friends and family with your intelligent and interesting contributions to their conversations.

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