Monday, June 05, 2006

School Rant (on English and "cheating")

I only intend a brief post today as I am very busy, but being in the middle of finishing up a final essay for my English class, some questions and grumbling come to mind. Here seems like a good place to put them. Maybe I'll include a quick rant about school in general too while I'm at at it.

First, English. All the english teachers I have ever had insist that certain things are not *ever* to be done in writing. One of the first I have prominently done already in this post to defy them. They say that when you write you should have absolutely *no* fragments upon penalty of your grade's death and the passive voice is to be avoided for sanity's sake (as though that would stop me). And *never* (never say never, Ms. B) start a sentence with a conjunction. Now I wouldn't have a problem if they said to make sure these don't occur often in you writings, but their "never evers" get on my nerves. In any of the great authors' works or even in those of green writers, you can find all the "problems" I listed. They add to written art as long as they are used only infrequently. So just why is it that I shouldn't model myself after theleterary masters? Why can two passives, just one sentence starting with a conjunction, and one fragment to emphasize an object or idea bring an otherwise great paper to its knees as merely mediocre?

While you ponder my English question, I'm moving on to my second and last rant for now. Public school loves to make claims right and left about how it is preparing us young folk for "the real world", but it seems to me that it universally enforces policies that do anything but prepare you for the way you are to work at your job for the rest of your life. "Cheating" is where I lay my the majority of these complaints. Students who work together on projects, share answers, etc. are punished by the school that is so kindly preparing them for "the real world". I don't "cheat", but I'd still like to know how this makes sense. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you encouraged in the work force to work together? At your typical job, aren't you supposed to work together with the others in your "class"? I've read things that seem to indicate that one of the things people get fired for most often is not working together. So tell me again, just how is school preparing us for our lifetime occupations and "the real world"?

That's all for now. I'm hoping to get a lot of comments from this post. Until next time, curate vobis. (Take care of yourselves.)

16 comments:

Marie N. said...

Hi Aaron,

I have only a few minutes but I came up with a few thoughts!

One thing supervisors and bosses do like is attention to their directions. Even the ones that we don't understand or are "stupid." Following the instructions for the writing assignments is practice in that area.

I am tempted and sometimes indeed I do mark Amelia's work os only half right if an assignment tells her to circle the nouns in a sentence and she underlines them instead. But she is a child who needs intensive training in paying attention.

Look at that! I started a sentence with a conjunction. What a segue to my next thought.

Undoubtedly you are aware of different styles of writing such as business letter, short story, informational speech, report, essay, etc. What is the style of your assignment? If the teacher wants zero sentences in passive voice and absolutely no fragments in a piece of creative writing I empathize with your frustration. It will be good practice for you and sharpen your skills to work within the instructor's limited framework. I'm reminded of the limits journalists have placed on their writing with column inches they need to cram a complete story into. I love ending sentences with prepositions.

As I wrap up here it occurred to me that you likely have more experience with good literature than your teacher. I'm amazed at all the great books I was *not* required to read to earn my bachelors degree in English. You'll earn excellent grades in college.

The Marvelous Magical Magnetic Maggie said...

HOW do you people WRITE such POSTS!!!! Aren't you supposed to be finaling??!? How do you expect us to keep up?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!

Ethan said...

Gah, people who give you 'never do [fillinblank]' rules for writing annoy me to no end. I mean, if they want you to write a certain way for their class, yeah, but they tend to try to claim that writing should ALWAYS be done this way, which it shouldn't. And this is especially poisonous for budding fiction writers like me (or me, 3-4 yrs ago) because if you're trying to get a brilliant idea on paper and you're also trying to remember a certain textbook's assinine rules for 'proper writing' (snicker snicker) you'll never get past where to put your apostraphes. And if you read popular fiction these days, you have fragments all over the place. For emphasis. Good rant, dude.

Don't have much experience with rant 2. ;) I will say, following stupid instructions for the sake of your grades can't hurt. But you don't have to like them. :D

I had thought you write excellent rants. And I still think so. Very nice. ;)

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Mrs N: I don't have trouble with the direction following. I also understand and comply with following their rules when I'm writing technical essays and such. What riles me though is when they ask for a piece of creative writing, a very short sory say, andgive me an 85% instead of a 100% because I don't follow thier technical writing rules.

Maggie: It's easy. I start think about something, and then I forget to pull the plug at just what I'd started out to get written.

Ethan: That's it exactly. If they would just expalain that these are just general rules, I would be perfectly happy. I just hate how they insist this, that, and the other rule are the the *only* right way to use the English language. It's not even just contemporary "these days" writers that they are disagreeing with. If it was that, I might still be closer to satisfied with it since I don't look up to modern writing like I do to classic lit., but when I can find their *always* rules broken is Herman Melville's Moby Dick, I know that something's screwy.

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

PS. I'm glad you like reading my rants. I like writing them. ;-) :D :D

Ethan said...

I'd like to see them grade "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," tee-hee-hee........

M said...

The "Never use" thing is totally stupid. There are always exceptions. The teachers are probably trying to teach you to do without so you don't overuse.

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Ethan: Har har! They'd probably give Huck a whopping F.

M: then they shouldn't emphasize the "never ever". <_<

M said...

So, Aaron, are you going to milk this post for all its worth or are you going to tell us something else equally if not more facinating? You do like to bide your time...

Ethan said...

I would like to know how N's badminton went, either here or if he feels like writing a post about it.

Anan said...

They emphasise the never ever because they actually *want* you to do those things. DUH! LOG...

Anan

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

Okay okay! I've breally and truly been busy this time, but now school is permentantly over for now, so I'll go write a post!

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

...I started a post the day I said I was going to post right away.

Anan said...

Suuuuuure...

Emily said...

Was that the same post you told me you were writing?

=P

Sir Darth Merlin Bilbollum Finn said...

<_< No... I might have that post up someday though....