Raising a generation of Really Bad Readers?

Evo

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I think that abbreviated text is appropriate in some forms, such as texting on a cell phone or in a chat room when text is scrolling by, it is not appropriate in an academic forum, expecially where people from all over the world participate. It is hard enough for someone new to English to understand proper English (not to mention some use translation software) but to expect them to understand "wut R U doin?' is ridiculous.

Words are modified and added to a language over time, but text speak right here, right now, is not acceptable.
 

Moonbear

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On another note, referencing Moonbear's post: "in the space provided" has never, throughout my academic career, implied (directly or indirectly) "and only in the space provided". I have always been instructed to use any additional space (such as the back of the sheet) needed to properly convey what it is I'm trying to say. The login behind this was simple: some people write big, some write small. It's foolish to think that everyone will be able to write a response in the same amount of space. Perhaps it's just a matter of the time's being different.
What else would it mean? If we mean you should use additional space as needed, we would give those instructions, i.e., "If you need additional space for your answer, use the bluebook provided." I always took into account large handwriting. I left enough room for a response three times as long as it really needed to be, just for those who are not as concise in their writing. Then they'd complain when they didn't have time to finish the exam. :rolleyes: Of course they don't have enough time to finish the exam if they're writing a novel for every question when three sentences would have sufficed. "Short answer" means short answer. If I wanted long essays, I would have the exam done in a blue book, not in the space provided on the exam page itself.
 

Astronuc

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hei lyk thanx 4 da info on how 2 pass maths. i am a bright student and was put into Maths B in skool but afta a while i began 2 stuggle. no one wud / cud help me bcuz ma teacha waz helpin othaz in da class and ma mum doesn't no how to do dat maths so again thanx Xox Babi boo. Oh and i passed maths bcuz of ur tips:smile::surprised:tongue2:
Posted in the Mathematics survival kit book review - this has got to be a wind-up!
That one hurt my eyes. My first thought was - "You've got to be kidding!" My second thought was to recommend a course in English.


I don't see "TM style" or L33t ("chat room style") as progress.

And I disagree with the assertion that "But the thing is, civilization tends to get smarter, every generation." We seem to have achieved a plateau at the moment, or perhaps if we consider the current president - we've taken a giant leap backward. Certainly there are the few percent of the population who might be considered smarter than those of the same age a few decades ago - but that is a small minority in the population.
 
What else would it mean?
I would take it to mean precisely what every professor I've had says it means - which is what I've stated. I wasn't saying it is right or wrong, merely that this is what I've run into through out high school and college.

Then they'd complain when they didn't have time to finish the exam.
Yeah, those people irk me as well.

Words are modified and added to a language over time, but text speak right here, right now, is not acceptable.
Sadly, there isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. Idiots will still communicate like idiots, regardless of how much anyone shuns them.

I don't see "TM style" or L33t ("chat room style") as progress.
Nor do I, but as you demonstrate later in your post: change doesn't always mean progress.
 
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mgb_phys

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That one hurt my eyes. My first thought was - "You've got to be kidding!" My second thought was to recommend a course in English.
My first thought was that it was Evo posting as a joke ......
 
EDIT: holy cow! I wasn't expecting this post would come out this long! eeek

Sadly, there isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. Idiots will still communicate like idiots, regardless of how much anyone shuns them.
I don't think it's fair to call them idiots ... sure, "proper" grammar has its charms, but language tends to evolve through the path of least effort.— As someone mentioned before, nobody uses "thee" or "thou" anymore; nor does anyone differentiate "hither" and "thither" from "here" and "there."

"You! come here!" is perfectly solid grammar in 2007. Had you said that in 1707, you'd've been seen as somewhat of an unsophisticate. — What is now the "beautiful and elegant" language of Italian was once the crude Latin of the "common people" — no one now would say that Italian or Spanish is a poor man's Latin.

Here's my 2c:
Spoken languages change much faster than written ones. As soon as a language starts being written down, "official" rules of proper grammar and syntax are created for it, which stagnates that change.
Also, there is a tendency to put more thought into written language than spoken language: someone writing a novel will pay more attention to what words he's using than someone buying a big-mac: few people speak as well as they write.
Not to mention: up until now, people have been writing things they meant to preserve for a long time.

What is happening now, which has never happened before, is that people are writing things that are not meant to last. People are not writing long letters to loved ones who live miles away that will be received days after they have been written and are meant to be read and re-read carefully and kept for a long time: people are chatting— writing things that are meant to be read once, then tossed away instantly.
In other words: people are writing at the speed in which they speak. This is bound to affect things.

I doubt we'll be seeing this in the next generation of English schoolbooks:

1) jimmy sed 2 bob "u got ___"

a) pwn
b) pwned
c) pwning
But we can't expect language to remain unaffected by the internet.

That said, I do think that some people's English is inexcusably atrocious: bad to the point where they can't even express themselves properly when they have to, or can't comprehend anything written at a level of English higher than what you would find in this month's MAD Magazine's Monroe strip.

But it's unfair to call these people idiots— they are not (at least many of them aren't)— it's because they are uneducated... or rather: they have not been properly educated.

I know I complain a lot about the school system. But it truly is terrible terrible terrible. So here I go again! :biggrin:

I don't blame the teachers; I've had some great teachers, many of whom were also horrified by the crap they were made to teach (my English teacher was especially critical of the school system).

How can it be that I graduated with an A in academic English and still my knowledge of the language was basic at best? (I don't know if in the US it's the same, but here they separate applied English from academic English... I can't imagine what students are learning [if anything at all] in applied English classes).

I took the mandatory literacy test three years after arriving to this country. I passed it with a perfect score: I cannot stress enough how EASY and BASIC this test is. Yet how can it be that so many local students fail it! I remember watching the news and students complaining about it being too HARD ! they were actually considering making it easier to accommodate the amount of students who were failing it!

here's a fringe idea: HOW ABOUT TEACHING BETTER ENGLISH.

Truth is they've made school too easy, and students are not being pushed nearly enough. Many classes that should be mandatory aren't: math beyond basic arithmetic, academic english, science, biology, physics.

Of course a teenager doesn't want to do those things! of course, as a 14 year old, all I and most of the other kids cared about was trying to get girls and see if we can get someone to buy us alcohol... and there's a reason for this: teenagers are morons! I was a moron, my friends were morons, and the vast majority of my schoolmates were morons — but that's exactly WHY teenagers need to be pushed into higher learning.

I think it's laughable that I graduated as an A student and basically learned nothing. It dawned on me a few weeks ago as I was reading brief biographies of my favorite authors— those from older generations like Poe or even Joyce: all these people were got out of school speaking Latin and French, knowing science and math, and already writing beautifully... what happened to our schools?

once more: ugh.
 
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Astronuc

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My first thought was that it was Evo posting as a joke ......
Boy, are you going to get it!

Besides, I doubt she would sink so low. :biggrin:
 

Office_Shredder

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I think it's laughable that I graduated as an A student and basically learned nothing. It dawned on me a few weeks ago as I was reading brief biographies of my favorite authors— those from older generations like Poe or even Joyce: all these people were got out of school speaking Latin and French, knowing science and math, and already writing beautifully... what happened to our schools?
Because in 200 years, nobody's (probably) going to be thinking "Gee, 200 years ago guys like moe were getting out of school speaking English, with basic arithmetic skills" because that kind of stuff doesn't make you famous 200 years later. For every Poe, how many people got out of school barely able to write and barely caring? I can assure you those people became historically famous at a much lower success rate than people who worked hard at becoming educated
 
I wasn't speaking about fame. I was speaking about the quality of education that they received at school. It just happens that the biographies I was reading were about famous people (as they usually are— I doubt someone'll write a biography for the local plumber).

From those biographies and from what I read from their personal accounts, it seems like school was much more strict and like these classes weren't optional.
My point wasn't that these people turned into famous people, my point was that at school they were being forced to learn proper English, and that coming out of school they knew how to write a sentence that makes sense.

What excuse is there for giving 14 year old students the option to not take the harder classes? how is that in any way defensible? how is it defensible to accept 50% as the passing grade?

Even when my parents were kids, you didn't pass a class without at least a 70%, and you bet you had to know proper grammar and punctuation.

how many people got out of school barely able to write and barely caring?
But that's exactly my point!
those people (like me) would have MOST CERTAINLY not graduated as A students. I actually got an award for academic achievement! that's preposterous! I wasn't even sober for most of high-school for Christ's sake; how can it be that I'm considered someone worthy of an award for academic achievement?? is that how low our standards have gotten?
 
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I think its all the transfat people are being fed.
 

jim mcnamara

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No, Four, you're wrong:
It's
1. phthphpthphthallates in soft plastics
2. flame retardants in sheets
3. fluoride in water
4. type II diabetes at age four
5. an alien conspiracy

David Hume is rolling in his grave right now, but it really doesn't matter what the cause may be. I'm not sure of the effect, even.

My take:
1. kids get into college now that could not have graduated from high back in the fifties

2. there are colleges that recruit on the bottom half of the bell curve of graduating seniors

3. there is zero investment by most folks in any internet endeavor, so you can't take any sample of 'skills' as meaningful. Or even representative.

4. there are tremendous anti-intellectual tendencies in our society. Hell, even my grown kids make fun of my choice of words - its 'da duh factor' in our culture. How many movies have you seen where the protagonist is a scientist or a mathematician? How many times were they bad guys instead?

5. thylocene anyone?
 

ShawnD

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Nothing is as bad as reading the comments under any...just about any Youtube video. Very few posts on PF even approach that level.
Ha, that's half the reason for going to youtube in the first place!

Look at this vide: Jeff Indyke's good times bad times feel (it's about the drumming of a good zeppelin song)
"man he is annoying, great drummer but i wish he would shut up"
"he's so annoying.. so annoying that i keep watching... its so weird. i mean, he said Bonzo's name like bonHAM instead of bon-em and how the **** did he say genre? god, i just hate this guy. ack..."

Then there's a similar video with the same guy: Jeff Indyke - John Bonham Triplets
"stop playing drums you ****in suck and your drums make you sound worse if its even possible"
"um... yeah pretty dam sure bonham used a cowbell... and putting ur drink on top of the tom isn't bad for the tom at all is it"
"I played drums, this guy can play but perhaps he should look at some clothes at another flea market???..:) Bonzo never dressed in drag !!! I'm offended...hahaha"
"yeah, this video made me feel like high off acid"


There's nothing wrong with the education system. It's just a huge pain in the ass to use proper punctuation and grammar. Ironically, it's an even bigger pain to convert everything into 1337 before you post it on youtube, but people do that all the time.

Here's Ron Paul keeping it real
"holy @#$% Ron Paul took that guy to school! Pwned!"

Yes, he pwned that individual. It was exciting.




edit:
2. there are colleges that recruit on the bottom half of the bell curve of graduating seniors
That's only true in the US, and it's because private universities are everywhere. Private schools make their money through tuition, so they'll try to get as many people enrolled as possible. If the student capacity around a place like Seattle is 50k, schools will find a way to fill all of those spots, even if it means accepting people who are very likely to drop out.
This kind of thing is less likely to happen in places where universities are government owned, because government tends to ignore the rules of supply and demand, or at least lag behind it for a few years. The lack of university spots could be seen as a good thing because the degree itself is worth a lot more, or it could be seen as a bad thing because it means fewer people have the option of going.
 
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Integral

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I think that there is a positive in the web that has been missed it this thread. In spite of the fact that the level of English is not always the best. The web has resurrected written communications. My 14yr old daughter has EXECELLENT writing skills, while it appears that she has some natural talents, she has sharpened her skills on Internet forums. This is not the only place on the net that encourages proper English usage, if fact a forum that she posts to bans people who use poor English and will not spell correctly.

Prior to the web and post 1960 the telephone nearly exterminated letter writing, now we have a new outlet for using the written word.
 

Chris Hillman

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Case in point

Someone here--- whom I won't name since my intention is not to point fingers but to illustrate the scope of the problem--- wrote in another thread:

The local NPR station here mentioned the Seattle School Board has banned WikiPedia use by students - largely, the NPR reporter maintains, because of doctoring of Wiki articles by special interests.
That didn't sound right, so I spent a few minutes with Google, and this is what I found:

  • A story by a reporter named Lynn Olanoff, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/living/2004025648_wikipedia21.html [Broken], which was published in the Express-Times of Easton, PA, and reprinted (November 21, 2007) in the "Living" section of the Seattle Times, a paper which is indeed published in Seattle, WA. This story quotes comments critical of Wikipedia from a handful educators in some East Coast locations, and does not even mention Seattle.
  • A post on a reader blog written by a parent and self-described "Wikipedia junkie" at the Seattle Times, a newspaper published in Seattle, who reacted with horror to these critical comments. Her post begins "My heart just about stopped when I saw the headline on today's Seattle Times site: 'School officials unite in banning Wikipedia' ", which could certainly be misread by a careless reader as referring to an (apparently nonexistent) ban by Seattle School officials. Readers of the blog then reacted with further comments; see this blog entry.
  • At least one other blog cited the story reprinted in the Seattle Times, but actually headlined the blog entry "Wikipedia banned in Seattle schools"; see http://www.warboards.org/showthread.php?t=31848 [Broken].
  • Plugging the search string "site:www.seattleschools.org[/url] Wikipedia" into Google and Yahoo produces some links to Wikipedia articles, but no mention of any ban by the Seattle School Board, whose website is [PLAIN]http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/index.dxml [Broken].
It's like a game of rumor, isn't it? It would be funny except that in other stories I have seen reporters at "respectable" news organizations adopting the same poor reading habits as everyone else on-line, and thus reporting urban myths as fact. Particularly in broadcast journalism, corrections to even blatant errors are very rare.

BTW, re a widely reported school discrict ban (Warren Hills Regional School District in New Jersey) on using Wikipedia for school projects, see a story by Nate Anderson, Banning Wikipedia at school: good idea or missed opportunity?, Ars Technica, November 27, 2007.

FWIW, I favor banning the use WP by students as an information resource for school projects, but I also favor using it extensively (in civics course?) in order to teach high school students about such devious on-line behavior as wikishilling, defamation, meat puppetry, and various other "dirty tricks" which are so easy to find at WP using tools like Google, Yahoo, and http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr/ [Broken]. Lessons which IMO need to be hammered home in high school include:
  • when surfing, always be on the lookout for a hidden agenda, shilling, etc.
  • playing fast and loose with on-line identity is seductive but can be much more dangerous than most youngsters realize,
  • no-one is truly anonymous on-line,
  • stupid things-- or even apparently innocuous things-- you say or do on-line can follow you into the "real world" with any number of disastrous consequences,
  • even if you are "not looking for trouble" on line, on the InterNet, trouble may very well be looking for you,
  • zillions of disturbing lessons about the Death of Privacy in the Age of Acxiom (what you don't know about what ChoicePoint knows about you can harm you).
Some educators admit that they try to drive home the point that WP cannot be used as an information resource by having their students insert misinformation into random articles. I do not advocate that, although I can see that it is one way to make the point stick.
 
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Astronuc

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playing fast and loose with on-line identity is seductive but can be much more dangerous than most youngsters realize,
Someone related a rather disturbing story to me concering the internet. Two adults (parents) apparently masqueraded as a 16-yr old boy on some forum (e.g. myspace?). As this persona, they developed an on-line relationship with a 13-yr old girl. Subsequently, they broke of the relationship abruptly, and the 13-yr was so distraught that she committed suicide (of course there are other factors).

The motivation of the adults? To find out what the 13-yr girl was saying about their daughter. Such behavior leaves me dumbfounded.

A wrongful death suit is pending.
 

ShawnD

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Someone related a rather disturbing story to me concering the internet. Two adults (parents) apparently masqueraded as a 16-yr old boy on some forum (e.g. myspace?). As this persona, they developed an on-line relationship with a 13-yr old girl. Subsequently, they broke of the relationship abruptly, and the 13-yr was so distraught that she committed suicide. The motivation of the adults? To find out what the 13-yr girl was saying about their daughter. Such behavior leaves me dumbfounded.

A wrongful death suit is pending.
I heard about that on the radio too. It sort of blows my mind how you would be able to sue/charge somebody over this. Now it's a crime to break up with people who are mentally unstable? What? Will it eventually be a crime to reject people from university on the grounds that they may or may not kill themselves upon receiving a rejection letter? Will it be illegal to turn people down for jobs? Will it be illegal to say "no" in general?
 
I heard about that on the radio too. It sort of blows my mind how you would be able to sue/charge somebody over this. Now it's a crime to break up with people who are mentally unstable? What? Will it eventually be a crime to reject people from university on the grounds that they may or may not kill themselves upon receiving a rejection letter? Will it be illegal to turn people down for jobs? Will it be illegal to say "no" in general?
I think the point isn't that they broke up with her, but that they masqueraded as someone else with the specific intentions of causing her emotional distress.
 

Chris Hillman

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Someone related a rather disturbing story to me concering the internet.
You probably are refering to a widely reported case which occurred last year in St. Louis. Adults pretending to be children on the InterNet is nothing new; there have been previous notorious cases.

And once again, case in point, Shawn, although in your case I guess it's a matter of half-hearing a radio story. Ditto sticks; if you read the news stories, you can see that the isse is that a mother, whose daughter had a falling out with the victim,
  • allegedly masqueraded as a "teenaged boy" who "befriended" on-line and then brutally denounced the victim,
  • allegedly masterminded other torments by other neighborhood children,
with the result that the victim, a teenaged girl, committed suicide.

If there's one thing I've learned on-line, it is that there is tremendous individual variation in what different people view as an "appropriate response".
 
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Astronuc

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I heard about that on the radio too. It sort of blows my mind how you would be able to sue/charge somebody over this. Now it's a crime to break up with people who are mentally unstable? What? Will it eventually be a crime to reject people from university on the grounds that they may or may not kill themselves upon receiving a rejection letter? Will it be illegal to turn people down for jobs? Will it be illegal to say "no" in general?
The issue is that the alleged offenders were adults who preyed on a minor.
 

ShawnD

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The issue is that the alleged offenders were adults who preyed on a minor.
The only thing they did different from anybody who posts on an internet forum is target somebody they knew as opposed to somebody they did not know. People come on forums all the time and call other people idiots, and nobody cares. Me and Economist seem to argue quite a bit, and Ivan and Russ argue a lot, but it's not a problem since none of us know each other in real life, nor do we care.

If Economist says my ideas are "not economically viable" and I killed myself because of it, would that make Economist guilty? What if I was 13 and he said my ideas were not viable, is he guilty yet? What if he lived right next door to me and made that statement, would he be guilty then? How close do me and Economist need to be before he is responsible for my suicide? Does he need to know me on a first name basis? Does he need to know my age and act under the assumption that I am that age, or is he responsible based on my age regardless of what I tell him? Does he need to seek me out before he's guilty, or can I push him into an argument and force him into being guilty? Where exactly is the line on this issue?

edit: If I declare right now that I'm 13, and you quote this post saying it's stupid, you could be held accountable if I kill myself since your intent was to cause emotional distress to a minor :wink:
 
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Integral

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How did the topic of this thread change from "poor readers" to internet scamming?
 

Art

The only thing they did different from anybody who posts on an internet forum is target somebody they knew as opposed to somebody they did not know. People come on forums all the time and call other people idiots, and nobody cares. Me and Economist seem to argue quite a bit, and Ivan and Russ argue a lot, but it's not a problem since none of us know each other in real life, nor do we care.

If Economist says my ideas are "not economically viable" and I killed myself because of it, would that make Economist guilty? What if I was 13 and he said my ideas were not viable, is he guilty yet? What if he lived right next door to me and made that statement, would he be guilty then? How close do me and Economist need to be before he is responsible for my suicide? Does he need to know me on a first name basis? Does he need to know my age and act under the assumption that I am that age, or is he responsible based on my age regardless of what I tell him? Does he need to seek me out before he's guilty, or can I push him into an argument and force him into being guilty? Where exactly is the line on this issue?

edit: If I declare right now that I'm 13, and you quote this post saying it's stupid, you could be held accountable if I kill myself since your intent was to cause emotional distress to a minor :wink:
Ah yes, typical of internet forum posters. It's all me, me, me whilst poor Economist is even now standing atop a very tall building contemplating a giant step for mankind. I hope you feel guilty :biggrin:

Seriously though the behaviour of these adults was utterly disgusting though I'm not sure which if any actual laws were broken. Even if this hadn't ended in suicide it was still a sick and twisted thing to do.
 

ShawnD

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