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The Sad Decline of Writing Quality

A friend sent this to me the other day:



Sad, but true.

In my 20 years of teaching in two disciplines (Communications and Education), it seems like there has been a downward spiral in writing quality for at least the past decade.

I’ve never had so many instances of academic dishonesty cases over the past six months in my career — and folks, these are not green, 18-year-old Freshmen who have no life experience, and no significant business writing experience upon which to draw for their course work.

I’m talking about, on average, 35-year-old adults who whine, moan, bitch, and complain about having to write more than two double-spaced pages for a class, and then, run a spell-check program over their papers, thinking all the bad ju-ju will get caught, no problem, no effort required.

That’s the thing I see that bothers me the most: No effort. None whatsoever. And then, these ‘students’ complain when their grades are crap. I get comments such as, “I’ve never had a teacher complain about my writing until now,” or, “You just messed up my GPA.”

Aw, gee. Sorry. I actually read the crap that is turned in to me, masquerading as ‘actual work,’ and let me tell you, if the ‘adult learner’ had actually PUT some work into it, the grade might actually be better! Ya think?

Hey, I’m sure that somewhere on earth, there’s a campus where you can drive around, car windows down, and someone will just throw a diploma in! Voila!

But it is not the University of Maryland.

And, it wasn’t the West Florida Seminary, either.

Take a look at what Emmett had to study (and pass, with an average of 75) for his Freshman year:

Notice Greek AND Latin were required for FRESHMEN.  Source: FSU archives

Notice Greek AND Latin were required for FRESHMEN. Source: FSU archives

Look at that…it wasn’t just that you had to SHOW UP, you had to RECITE a minimum of four times per week in that class; and, you were expected (when you got called upon) to be ready to go. No whining allowed. You either did it, or you were out.

Times are different; education delivery is certainly different. But what happened to the expectation of quality, folks, across the curriculum? Good writing is a basic skill needed with every subject, with every profession.

If some of us went back in time to Emmett’s school, and tried to pass any of these classes, I think we’d be laughed out of there on our asses, PDQ. QED.

The only thing I can say about the quality of what’s coming into my classes is that it is good job security for me — but it is frustrating to have to focus on basics in SENIOR writing classes, when the real deal should be about in-depth exploration of communication concepts and ideas. It makes me want to weep sometimes.


In book production news, I’ve written 32 pages in three days. I am on a major roll with one of Emmett’s chapters. I think it is coming together well. I’ll have more to report on the manuscript progress in another day or so.








Categories: Book Family Interesting & Odd Recommended Sources Research Status

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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