Captain's Log: July 27, 2015
In the advanced cruise, my superiors require that I only focus on expository and argumentative writing. Throughout this cruise with my advanced crewmembers, I have done this. However, I find that, with all the discussion and reading about the importance of improving their Standard English Dialect and how it can positively or negatively affect the total quality of their verbal and written discourse, they still are not implementing what they seem to understand actually in their prose. So, for this week I have assigned a different kind of assignment—a narrative or choice of doing a poem and narrative.
Everyone of my crew has submitted this one, many ahead of the deadline. Yes, for many this is what they are used to writing in high school. It is fun and really taps in their creative spirit. Unfortunately, very few of the jobs that are out there will pay for one’s ability to write a creative short story or poem. And none of my crew has shared a plan to become professional writers or advertisers, professions that will cultivate their ability to write that provocative story or poem. Of course, even those in those professions need to have command of grammar and punctuation. Unfortunately, it seems as the article by Witherspoon notes, focus on these items is lacking in the high schools. And so, when my crew comes to the college online cruises, they are not prepared. Yes, they can spin a tale, but not one that has few grammatical and punctuation errors. They are not prepared to write any paper, descriptive, narrative, expository, or argumentative demonstrating a strong command of the Standard English Dialect.
For this assignment I give two grades; one is for the content presentation; the other is for the grammar/punctuation. I do not attach an evaluation sheet. Instead, I do the calculating at the end of the work. And throughout the work, I indicate every grammatical/punctuation error. Yes, this takes time (oh, does it take a lot of time ). However, this is a stark indication of how much they will need to “get together” in order to submit a quality college paper. The code switching must occur. And the markings throughout at this point of the cruise is a blunt slap of reality demonstrating each has a lot of work to do before each submits the final exam, which is due Week Fourteen.
I have re-emphasized to each of my crew on their work that I am more than willing to work with them individually. I encourage them to ask me questions via e-mail or post in a forum I have placed on Blackboard. I do not want them to feel discouraged, but, if I do not note the grammatical errors, it is tantamount to being a liar and leading them down the same false road that has landed them in this situation.
Let me digress. I was talking to a very dear friend who has been retired for about seven years. I said to her, “Am I expecting too much? Most definitely, I am not winning the popularity contest among captain/professors. Surely, I cut down on hours of checking a paper if I just ignored the grammatical errors and not expect structured content presentation, kind of let ‘em go “east, west, north, south” with no direction. Geezo, it seems my efforts are not really appreciated at times.”
Her response, “I would tell my crew/students, ‘I would rather you hate me now than hate me later.’ ” And hearing that comment, I realize this is what I have to remember as I keep the bar high, the expectations to exceed what my crew/students don’t even know they need to know in the future. Yes, this is why I try so hard. This is why I cannot give up. And this is why I began serving as a captain/teacher for these many years.