Emmett’s Alma Mater & Grammar Woes

Standard

You’ve seen me rant in earlier posts about the decline in general student performance, both in my own classes and in higher ed in general. Here’s an interesting story about collegiate football fans.

Given the fact that I see — and catch — more instances of plagiarism and poor grammar in student papers today than I did 10 years ago, today’s story from The Orlando Sentinel doesn’t come as a huge surprise:

FSU_fans_orlando

Emmett was a student at FSU — before it was FSU, that is. When Emmett was enrolled there, it was called West Florida Seminary, or, the Seminary West of the Suwannee. It also had a reputation for being notoriously rigid in terms of educational quality. If you wanted to be there, then by damn, you had to show up and suit up.

You couldn’t just take up space in a classroom, and then complain to the dean that your professor didn’t give you any ‘credit’ for just taking up academic real estate. Like you can nowadays.

Basic requirements to pass your Freshman year: Proficiency in BOTH Greek and Latin. Source: FSU Archive

Basic requirements to pass your Freshman year: Proficiency in BOTH Greek and Latin. That’s not the case in 21st century higher ed. Source: FSU Archive

The entrance exams are what separated the folks who knew how to proofread and cite sources properly, and those who did not — among other things. Emmett, unfortunately, was one of the victims of the rigorous entrance exams — he didn’t make it to finish his sophomore year. It was just as well, because WFS didn’t have a law school at the time, and Emmett later decided he wanted to be a lawyer.

Were fans back in Emmett’s day who attended college more likely to proofread and avoid plagiarism? I’m unsure.

I think with all the tech at our fingertips, it certainly is easier to avoid doing the ‘work’ of reading a document for accuracy. Spell check programs will not catch a wrong word if that wrong word is spelled correctly, and most of my students will run their papers through the program, but not actually read the paper for clarity.

And it certainly is easier to attempt plagiarism, anyway — that is, unless you are in my class at the University of Maryland.

Doc Cop, one of the free plagiarism checking programs available (and one that my students use to check their work). Source: www.doccop.com

Doc Cop, one of the free plagiarism checking programs available (and one that my students use to check their work). Source: http://www.doccop.com

I believe that the teachers at WFS had the same problems I do, but on a lesser scale. The enrollments were smaller, compared to the typical classroom size today. Also, I think the students had more respect for education and the effort it took to earn a degree. Less than 1 percent of the population in Emmett’s day could even afford college. Higher ed was a privilege and treated as such, compared to today.

I don’t know. I wish people valued their educational opportunities more, and treasured the chances just to interact with others, in the hopes of expanding their world views. This may be just a matter of maturity, you know.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s