It’s that time again. This semester’s epidemic appears to be of long, rambling, ungrammatical or ill-structured sentences in long, rambling paragraphs. Often the student in question appears to have good ideas, to have done some research and to understand the subject-matter, sometimes at quite a deep level. In that situation, I feel the issuing of a middle-range mark is something of a cheat. What I actually want to do is sit the student down and say “You have first-class ideas but you cannot write formal prose, and we cannot give somebody a good arts & humanities degree who cannot write formal prose”. And then edit one of those long paragraphs with them and send them away to do the rest.

But why does it even get to that point?

I have made one decision, though – in future I am not going to answer any queries from students about how to reference (eg) a classic text in translation, a web article, a church statement… It is a distraction for both them and me. They spend all this time worrying about referencing, which is a skill of very limited application, and should be worrying about better writing.

Would write more, but baby is crying.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa on 16 January, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I’m sort of glad, in a way, that it’s not just teachers who are noticing that students these days lack literacy skills… We are currently having a push on literacy across the curriculum, as we have many students who lack even basic literacy skills. We have huge numbers of students who cannot write in proper sentences, let alone for different purposes!


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: