[Milton-L] Why teachers retire early if they can afford it Eh...

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Thu Jun 12 10:10:11 EDT 2008

Carl: I think there are different opinions about whether we need to
learn to write well first, or correctly first.  I also think it's
pointless to cite Shakespeare and Milton as examples, since most of
our students are not Shakespeare or Milton, never will be, and rules
weren't as fixed in the early modern period as they are now.  If I had
a Shakespeare with a few misplaced commas (or a Yeats for that
matter), I'd treat him very differently than I would anyone else.  I
respected the force of expression in that quoted response from one of
my wife's students despite its flaws.

In my experience, foreign students are often better writers than many
US students as most foreign students have actually been taught the
rules of English grammar.  I've taught students from Lithuania,
Afghanistan, Ukraine, Columbia, Spain, Germany, Japan, China, etc.,
and the pattern holds.  The student from the Ukraine was one of my
best writers.  The student from Germany was really quite something --
when she couldn't figure out an English word, she tried to get to
English through Latin.  She came very close at times.

Yes, students hate English, but not because they're being taught
rules.  Students haven't been taught rules for over 30 years.  Rollins
(where I have taught for the last four years as a lecturer -- I'm
moving on next year) requires a College Grammar and Editing Essentials
class of all English majors.  The editing course kicks the collective
arses of all students who take it because students have no background
walking in -- even A students who write very well struggle in this

Many hate English because they don't see the point in the subject.
Everything they are taught, they imagine, should directly translate
into a clearly identifiable job skill or knowledge base that will find
immediate application in the world outside school.  So they understand
education solely in vocational terms.

Jim R

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