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Carol Culver Rzadkiewicz

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Blogs by Carol Culver Rzadkiewicz

The Loss of the Ability to Communicate
8/14/2008 11:14:40 PM
Back in the old days when I was a girl growing up in rural Georgia, we didn’t have all these high-tech gadgets. What we did have, however, were books.

 

I wasn’t going to write another blog entry until this weekend; but I changed my mind, perhaps because, over the past few days, I have graded about a zillion student papers (or so it seems) and my brain has earned a much-deserved respite, one that can only be found in writing a blog entry. The poor thing is feeling a bit fatigued at the moment; and if you don’t understand why this is the case, I suggest that you read about a zillion student papers, all of which address the same topic, and all of which contain countless errors upon which you have commented in previous papers but feel obligated to comment upon yet again. Then, trust me, you will understand how my poor brain feels at the moment.

 

Personally, I have to wonder if students even bother to proofread their work. Of course, I know that some do; but based upon experience, I would argue that most don’t. Heck, some students don’t even bother to set the language or activate Spell Check. They instead leave those tasks for the instructor; and trust me, that is exactly what I do. Of course, the first thing I do is click on “Word Count” to see if the paper meets the word-count requirement; but after using Word Count, I click on “Language,” followed by “Set Language” (English, not Russian or Chinese or Arabic), after which I make certain that “Do not check spelling or grammar” is not checked.

 

And, boy howdy, you should see that paper light up. Voila! Suddenly and quite miraculously, it lights up like the proverbial Christmas tree. There are red squiggly lines under misspelled words. There are green squiggly lines under grammatical errors. Plus, the little office assistant (mine is a cat) slaps on its glasses, whips out its notepad, and starts scribbling like mad. (Not that Word catches all errors. Instead, that odious chore is left for Ms. Carol’s brain, an instrument that far exceeds any computer program when it comes to identifying mistakes in student papers, which is probably why it is so often exhausted to the point of total collapse.)

 

However, grammatical and spelling errors aren’t the only flaws I find in student papers. Another, and far more egregious, error I encounter is a total lack of coherence. For example, on many occasions I will read a sentence not once but twice or even three or more times and still have absolutely no earthly idea what the writer was attempting to convey when he or she tossed together what amounts to a veritable chef’s salad of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and random interjections, then spilled them onto the page.

 

“Ah, come on,” you say. “It can’t be that bad.”

 

It can’t? As proof, I offer exhibit A:

 

A titanic corporation may specialize in particular departments, and at a time of the business, functioning the corporation may not make contact with the particular departments; whereas a smaller corporation should be able to give more attention to the company, but at the same time, the service to the company can come to the slow pace of doing business.

 

And, trust me, I could not, try as I might, make up such a sentence. Nor would I want to make up such a sentence, not even in jest. In fact, were I even to attempt to compose such a mishmash of words, my poor brain would probably go into some kind of cognitive meltdown and never fully recover; and at least as things stand at the moment, after a good night’s sleep, my brain will once again be functional. Or at least I hope that’s the case. Then again, perhaps this last barrage of student papers did irreparable damage to my poor brain’s synapses. Only time will tell for sure. But that’s enough about my brain, for I do have a point I wish to make.

 

“Argh,” you groan. “You mean there’s a point?”

 

Of course there’s a point. Isn’t there always? And my point tonight is this: There has been a marked decline in writing skills among students over the past ten to fifteen years. I have noticed this decline, so has Chet, and we’re both teachers so we are exposed to many examples of writing, which makes us semi-experts on the phenomenon. And of course the question that rears its ugly head is this: To what can we attribute this marked decline in writing skills? Well, although I am sure there are several—

 

You say, “I think it’s because—” 

 

Pardon me, but this is my blog. As I was saying, although I am sure there are several contributing factors, I believe the major villain is technology. Yes, that’s right, technology. Why? Well, because technology has given us the World Wide Web; video and computer games; high-definition televisions; IPods; cell-phones that double as cameras, computers, navigation systems, and calculators; along with myriad other high-tech gadgets that devour young people’s time. So, with that in mind, the answer is obvious.

 

“It is?” you now say, looking befuddled.

 

Yes, it certainly is. See, back in the old days when I was a girl growing up in rural Georgia, we didn’t have all these high-tech gadgets. What we did have, however, were books. That’s right, we had books. And we actually read those books; and by reading those books, we not only learned about the world in which we lived—past and present—we also learned how to write sentences that actually made sense. 

 

And with that I rest my case.



Comments (1)

More Blogs by Carol Culver Rzadkiewicz
• Have You Ever Wondered? - Monday, February 08, 2010
• Students Write the Darnedest Things - Thursday, December 17, 2009
• Random Brain Droppings - Saturday, November 07, 2009
• To Twitter or not to Twitter, That Is the Question. - Monday, June 29, 2009
• Levy "Sin" Taxes on Actual Sins - Thursday, May 14, 2009
• What's New in My World? - Sunday, April 05, 2009
• To Blog or Not to Blog? - Sunday, March 08, 2009
• New Year's Predictions for 2009 - Thursday, January 01, 2009
• Christmas 2008 - Saturday, December 27, 2008
• What I Learn from the Newspaper - Thursday, December 11, 2008
• Totally Inane Messages - Monday, December 01, 2008
• Is America a "Civilized" Nation - Saturday, November 29, 2008
• What Thanksgiving Means - Wednesday, November 26, 2008
• Autumn, Sarah Palin, & Cultural Literacy - Sunday, November 09, 2008
• Thank You, America - Tuesday, November 04, 2008
• The Perfect Husband - Friday, October 24, 2008
• Sarah Who? - Monday, October 06, 2008
• Rats Abandoning a Sinking Ship - Friday, September 26, 2008
• Why Do So Many Students Detest Reading? - Monday, September 22, 2008
• What's in a Name? - Saturday, September 13, 2008
• Waiting for Gustav - Sunday, September 07, 2008
• It's Time for Change - Friday, August 29, 2008
• George Washington, He Ain't - Saturday, August 23, 2008
• More Money Than Common Sense - Friday, August 15, 2008
•  The Loss of the Ability to Communicate - Thursday, August 14, 2008  
• The Wonders of Modern Technology - Sunday, August 10, 2008
• Water, Water, Everywhere - Thursday, August 07, 2008
• A Different World - Sunday, August 03, 2008
• Thinking" Consumerism - Thursday, July 31, 2008
• Mr. Fix It -- Not My Husband - Saturday, July 26, 2008
• Pour Me Another Cup of Coffee - Sunday, July 20, 2008
• Southern Cooking - Friday, July 18, 2008
• The Value of Human Life - Friday, July 11, 2008
• Running on Empty - Sunday, July 06, 2008
• A Question of Respect - Friday, July 04, 2008
• Monkey See, Monkey Do - Thursday, July 03, 2008
• English Only - Tuesday, July 01, 2008
• Jesus for President - Friday, June 27, 2008
• Do You Believe in Bad Luck? - Thursday, June 26, 2008
• Existing versus Living - Tuesday, June 24, 2008
• The Rich Are Different - Sunday, June 22, 2008
• Spirit Dog -- Goodbye My Friend - Wednesday, June 18, 2008
• What's in a Name? - Tuesday, June 17, 2008
• Are Some People Really That Dumb? - Monday, June 16, 2008
• An Appalling State of Affairs - Wednesday, June 11, 2008
• The Ongoing Stupidity of the Human Race - Sunday, June 08, 2008
• Living in Fear - Friday, June 06, 2008
• An Epiphany about Survival - Monday, June 02, 2008
• Abusing the System -- Handouts from Uncle Sam - Saturday, May 31, 2008
• When 50 Cents Was a Fortune - Wednesday, May 28, 2008
• The Greed of the Human Race - Saturday, May 24, 2008
• I Have Been Living an Illusion - Friday, May 23, 2008
• Today's Children Lack Imagination - Sunday, May 18, 2008
• The Three Perfect Foods - Wednesday, May 14, 2008
• Kids & Pets Alone in Vehicles - Saturday, May 10, 2008
• Into the Valley of Death - Friday, May 09, 2008
• In Remembrance of Outhouses - Monday, May 05, 2008
• Family Is Family - Saturday, May 03, 2008
• Thank You, Mr. President - Thursday, May 01, 2008
• Just the Right Word - Thursday, April 24, 2008
• America, Overweight and Gaining: A Byproduct of Capitalism - Friday, April 18, 2008
• Only in Southern Louisiana - Wednesday, April 16, 2008
• Why I Don't Trust Doctors - Saturday, April 12, 2008
• Mama Wisdom - Thursday, April 10, 2008
• Who Is To Blame? - Tuesday, April 08, 2008
• Smoking Ain't So Bad for You After All - Friday, April 04, 2008
• In the News: Children Plot to Kill Teacher - Wednesday, April 02, 2008
• If I Were An Advice Columnist - Sunday, March 30, 2008
• In the News - Thursday, March 27, 2008
• How to Tell When You're Getting Old - Sunday, March 23, 2008
• The Most Heartbreaking Profession in the World - Wednesday, March 19, 2008
• My Kingdom for an Honest Politician - Friday, March 14, 2008
• Let's Simplify the Divorce Process - Sunday, March 09, 2008
• Restaurants Should Ban Kids, Not Smoking - Sunday, March 02, 2008
• Technology and the Destruction of Language - Friday, February 29, 2008
• Our Friend, Mr. Comma, and How He Is Being Abused - Thursday, February 28, 2008
• More on the Abuse of the English Language - Monday, February 25, 2008
• More on the Abuse of Words - Wednesday, February 20, 2008
• Slaughtering the Mother Tongue - Sunday, February 17, 2008
• Slaughter of the Innocents - Thursday, February 14, 2008
• Valentines Day - Bah, Humbug! - Wednesday, February 13, 2008
• Election Day - Saturday, February 09, 2008
• Today's Pathetic Television Fare - Wednesday, February 06, 2008
• Something Is Definitely Rotten in Denmark - Sunday, February 03, 2008
• Georgia Good Old Boys & Pickup Trucks - Thursday, January 31, 2008
• Shop 'til You Drop - Sunday, January 27, 2008
• The State of Our Economy - Friday, January 25, 2008
• Love Is Such a Little Word - Wednesday, January 23, 2008
• A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words - Monday, January 21, 2008
• Winning the Lottery - Saturday, January 19, 2008
• What Is Going On With Today's Children? - Wednesday, January 16, 2008
• Flip-Flopping -- The New Trend in Politics - Monday, January 14, 2008
• Religion - Walking the Walk - Saturday, January 12, 2008
• You Can't Transplant a Southerner - Friday, January 11, 2008
• Punishment --Southern Style - Thursday, January 10, 2008
• Today's Children - Wednesday, January 09, 2008
• I Love the South--Especially Our Language - Tuesday, January 08, 2008
• Freedom of Expression: Who Decides? - Monday, January 07, 2008
• You Can't Go Home Again - Sunday, January 06, 2008
• Predictions for 2008 - Friday, January 04, 2008
• Up, Up, and Away--The Price of Oil - Thursday, January 03, 2008
• High School Reunion - Tuesday, January 01, 2008
• New Year's Resolutions - Monday, December 31, 2007
• All God's Creatures, Great and Small - Sunday, December 30, 2007
• Send Me A Man (or Woman) Who Reads - Saturday, December 29, 2007
• Dante's Inferno--Revised - Friday, December 28, 2007
• America’s Expanding Waistline: A Byproduct of Capitalism - Friday, December 28, 2007
• Why We Cannot Live Deliberately - Wednesday, December 26, 2007
• The Ideal President -- My Opinion - Tuesday, December 25, 2007
• Going Deeper and Deeper into Debt - Monday, December 24, 2007
• Cell Phones -- Bane or Blessing? - Sunday, December 23, 2007
• Greed--A Natural Human Condition - Saturday, December 22, 2007
• So This Is Christmas? - Friday, December 21, 2007
• Rush Limbaugh & Double Standards - Thursday, December 20, 2007
• Growing Old Ain't for Sissies - Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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