We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Does having a college degree guarantee that you can write a coherent, well-developed, logical and grammatical ten-page essay? Certainly not. Isn't that a high school skill, anyway (see No One Wants to Teach Writing - At Brooklyn College, professors pass the buck rather than take responsibility for students' writing)?
"Right now a student graduating from, say, California State University at Fresno, Kansas State University, or the State University of New York at Brockport with a 3.3 average has a tough time getting considered for a good job. These schools, while by no means considered academic disasters or diploma mills, accept kids that were mostly above average but not exceptionally good high school students. A 3.3 average once denoted "a well above average student" but does not anymore in this era of grade inflation. In short, absent more information, this hypothetical student would be considered "a so-so student from a so-so university," perhaps not worth employers investing human resource department dollars to carefully assess and interview.
Enter the CLA + and the new Gallup-Purdue Index. Our hypothetical student can take the CLA+ and employers can see quickly and inexpensively how he or she fares relative to, say, a 3.1 student graduating from the University of Virginia, UCLA, or Swarthmore College, far more selective institutions. On the basis of those test results, some of the students at the less selective universities will manage to get interviews and serious consideration by employers."
I am a 61 year old with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree from a top US engineering school. When I was a college freshman I took a required English course on grammar and writing. I took advantage of my senior high school English teacher who graciously assisted me by helping me review and fine tune my writing assignments. I believe that lead me, as an Engineer, to establish a "peaceful coexistence" with the English language. As a result, I have published several technical articles and papers of a quality greater than most of my colleges, many with advanced degrees. I do not intend to brag or imply that I am a journalist. I am not. I just want to make the point that it does not much to reach an adequate legal of writing proficiency. It just takes a teacher who cares. Thank you Ms. Blair.
Back in the day, when I was pursuing a B.Sc., the rule at my university was that all science students had to take a certain number of arts courses, and the converse was true. Problem was that, while arts students were given special courses in the sciences ("rocks for jocks" - which was also for engineers - and "bits for twits" being among the "science" courses for non-scientists), there were no equivalent courses for scientists. The result was that we would-be scientists were found ourselves in arts courses and vieing with serious arts majors for marks.
My comment, back in the day, was that there should be at least ONE arts course for the science majors: that of clear, concise report writing. In my prior role as secretary to scientists, I had realized early on that report writing was not on any science program curriculum. Still think a course on report writing (as opposed to "English" courses which require one to parrot back to the instructor his/her insights on the curriculum) would be a logical step forward.
My comment, back in the day, was that there should be at least ONE arts course for the science majors: that of clear, concise report writing.
One reason I chose a STEM major was my dislike of writing, the result of bad experiences with English and History classes in high school. I figured that would minimize my writing.Perhaps it did. But my senior lab involved a team of four cranking out a thirty page lab report every week. Even engineers need to be able to write!
All professionals need to be able to write clearly and concisely. In the real world, you need to say as much as possible in as few words as possible. And write in the same manner.
Writing instruction in high school and college need more channels than the "junior literary critic" role that English courses impose.
I am a widower (wife died of cancer) who has been sacrificing most of my small retirement savings to send my three daughters to private Catholic colleges--their choice. It has been an outstanding investment, as all three schools (each chose a different Catholic college) have given my girls (one finished, one graduating in May, one with two years to go) outstanding educations. Very tough standards, lots of writing, a strong emphasis on critical thinking, and a very healthy and balanced focus on morality and ethics.
My girls have been able to learn and study in an environment of respect and discipline...compared to the horror stories I have heard from other parents who sent their children to state universities. One parent related how her daughter, in the first weeks of her freshman year, was forced to lie in the top bunk of her dorm room while her roommate had sex with a boyfriend in the bottom bunk. This was considered acceptable.....and that's just one of many stories....
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