Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Who says we don’t need no education?

alphabetLast week, the British government announced that it was going to overhaul the education system. I don't really pay much attention to this sort of news for two reasons:

1. My school days are way behind me;
2. I don't ever intend to have any kids.

However, out of the corner of my eye and ear I took a little of it in.

The main thrust of the campaign is a renewed emphasis on "the Three Rs".

For me, therein lies the problem. You're trying to teach kids via a system called "reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic". Maybe, back in my day and beyond, you could get away with this kind of silly pun, but I hold out little hope for the kids of today. To say they all look like a bunch of screw-ups is to put it mildly. (Of course, I'm generalizing, but you know I'm right.)

I don't believe that this text-messaging generation has the first clue when it comes to spelling, for example (and that's just the tip of the iceberg). You can put the blame on the aforementioned abomination of communication via cell phone; you can blame email; you can blame Web forums. They probably all have a part to play. People seem to think that there is no need to write correctly in these "new media", so they don't. But I suspect this carries over into their real lives, too.

And now we want to go back 20 years or more and imply that "writing" begins with the letter R? If you ask me, that's just looking for trouble. Now, where's Big Bird when you need him?


Pie said...

I have to agree completely with most kids today (and young adults) being total screw-ups - except my own of course who are only partial screw-ups :-)

Txtspk irritates me, but I doubt it irritates me any more than 'this crap on tv' irritated my dad or 'this damn music' irritated my grandfather.

Lee said...

Even beyond txtspk, sometimes when I'm trolling for new blogs, I'll run into something like this: some crap post

And I think maybe the world really is about to end.

Radmila said...

It's really pretty sad, but language is always changing.
Maybe we're just being left behind?
What with all our old time comprehension expectations, and our correct spelling and grammar hang ups.
We'll all be left in the dirt, like handwriting has been.
I don't know if I'm the only one that notices that penmanship used to be a big deal...50 years ago, everyone had lovely handwriting. Now, you hardly get a hand written piece of anything, and when you do it's illegible...what with the bad spelling, and grammar combined with chickenscratch handwriting.

Lola said...

Okay. The penmanship issue irritates me. My niece, while in grade two, was required to submit wordprocessed homework because the teacher "couldn't read the children's handwriting". What the #*@%! (This was about six years ago) Should they have been teaching kids to write correctly?

As well, I think that bad spellers existed a long time ago. I remember in high school thirty years ago that many of my classmates weren't able to spell. It just wasn't that important to them at the time.

I was reading an article somewhere the other day that suggested that nowadays kids who use textspeak are actually more diverse in their use of language. For the life of me, I cannot remember the specific examples but they said a lot of the expressions that they use are not that common in spoken language thus it expanded kids' usage vocabulary. Personally, I think it was a bit of a stretch however, I thought that I'd mention it.

Honestly though, I am sure that our parents could certainly say that we were a bunch of scatterbrains at that age too. However, I suppose that it was for reasons different from the ones that exist now...

* (asterisk) said...

Pie: Of course, every generation has things about it that piss of the previous generation. Music has to change. The entertainment industry in general, too, as regards what is and isn't permissible. But mobile (cell) phones bug the hell out of me, and I hate how it's made people write. Pet peeve? Perhaps.

Lee: That's just ridiculous, isn't it? I mean, surely it takes as much effort to write badly and incorrectly as it does to write properly?!

Radmila: Absolutely, language is always changing, and I'm not resistant to change. But there have to be rules that govern spellings, grammar, etc. There must be correct ways to write a word. We Brits know that Americans spell colour (and similar words) without the u, for example, and that's fine; but you can't have people spelling it kulr, kolur, kulur, coler, culler, etc all within the same country! That would be insane. And don't get me started on penmanship! Everyone writes like a teenage girl these days, with fat, bubby letters and circles for dots on i's. What is with that?!

Lola: I don't buy into the diversity of language thing. I think the only thing that I could possibly say in favour of textspeak is that it makes you use your brain to work out exactly what the word is supposed to say! But that in itself is making written communication harder to understand, which is surely against the very essence of communication. If we are to change the way we write and spell, surely the goal is to make things easier for everyone, not just for 12-year-olds? And that teacher sounds like a jerk.

Radmila said...

Oh...listen...I'm totally with you.
But, I do sometimes wonder if it's just going where it's going and that's it.
I mean, plenty of teachers in elementary schools are fresh out of University and have bad grammar, spelling and penmanship.
I read a note from a teacher my neice had a couple of yesrs ago.
It said:
"Please speak with K about how she speaks out in class whenever she feels like"
WTF is that?
The penmanship thing is two things. It's lack of practice and to hide bad grammar and spelling.
It's ridiculous.

* (asterisk) said...

"it's just going where it's going and that's it"

My, Radmila, that's a bit depressing, isn't it?!

But teachers don't seem to want (or be able) to do their jobs anymore.