Soap Box

I was in such a great mood when I got up (after oversleeping) this morning.  My company is leaving town today, I get to clean and reclaim my house as my own, my boss is out of town, and I’m mentally getting back in the gear for real writing.  Then I sat down to grade the discussion boards in my class.  I cannot begin to describe to you how much I hate, loathe, despise, and abhor discussion boards.  I wouldn’t do them if my department didn’t require them.  Why such animosity?  Because in general a) my students don’t get what I’m asking, b) there is never any discussion, c) I have to endure appalling grammar and spelling on top of it all.  After grading 50 students, 30 percent didn’t do the assignment at all, only FIVE actually answered the question properly, and a few actually seemed to think that using “u” and “r” was okay.  So I sat down to write up an announcement for both sections about Discussion Board Rules.  I’ve revised it about 4 times now, and I think I still come off as a raging bitch.  So I haven’t posted it yet.

I’m trying to figure out how I can get the same point across without textually screaming.  This is such a pet issue with me.  In our casual, non-reader, text-messaging society, proper grammar and spelling isn’t being taught, enforced, or used.  Now I don’t want a repeat of the raging debate we had here a few months ago about the proposals of the Simplified Spelling Society.  But this is IMPORTANT.  These students simply look ignorant, which hardly prepares them for the work world.  Granted, I’m teaching community college–most of them are not likely to go on to be famous orators or rocket scientists or Wall Street execs.  Most of my classes are non-traditional students.  They are adults with families and jobs.  They’re squeezing classes into their already busy schedules in order to get a degree and improve themselves, to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families.  So I feel like I’m doing them a disservice if I don’t point out and give consequences for poor grammar and spelling (0.5 point off for every error in any graded assignment).  I’ve had raging debates with some colleagues about it.  They feel that as I don’t teach English, it’s inappropriate and irrelevant.  I absolutely disagree.  Good communications skills (and that includes good grammar and spelling) are necessary for ANY SUBJECT.  Better to do so in my class where they can learn something and correct it, than them losing a shot at a job for doing so on a job application or in an interview.  Mostly it works out.  They bomb their first couple of discussion boards for those errors, then they start proofreading.  Maybe I make a difference, maybe I don’t.  I’d like to think that some people think about it a little more after taking my class.

Thank God I don’t teach English or require papers.  I’d fail them all.

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