Smart phones and dumb kids-We don’t need no stinkin’ grammar! We have autocorrect!

Smart phones and dumb kids-We don’t need no stinkin’ grammar! We have autocorrect!

My mother was an English teacher for years in Catholic schools and so I suppose it was only natural that I would not only end up in a Catholic school, but would also end up being what others refer to as a “Grammar Nazi”. Imagine my shock and dismay when I saw a link to an article in the Daily Caller, shared with me by my mother, that said “Professor says kids don’t need to learn spelling and grammar because of smart-phones”. After reading the article I was, well, disgusted.

When I was in school, which doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago, we tirelessly diagramed sentences and went over parts of speech constantly. The end result of this was that I knew how to write, and how to speak excellent English, both of which have served me incredibly well over the years. As a teacher of college students that range in age from their early twenties (recent high school grads) to their sixties; I can tell you exactly what those who made up the  educational vanguard and their tireless following of this or that educational fad has done to student’s abilities to write effectively, never mind well. At least if I assign a standard five paragraph essay to an older student, they know the format by heart and can execute it. The recent high school grads-well lets just say I might as well be speaking Greek.

On the topic of smart phones being the end all be all of grammar and spelling corrections-PLEASE! That MUST be why we have the site www.damnyouautocorrect.com, because smart phones are CLEARLY the arbiters of perfect grammar and spelling. Yes, that must be why my iPhone once substituted “lesbians” for “legislative”. The professor in the article also mentions that he “often skips grammar and writes in a  cryptic way”, which is unacceptable in my eyes. My students often observe a similar practice-and they suffer the consequences.

None of this would really bother me if it were some random professor that no one really pays attention to at a second rate, no name recognition school. Unfortunately this is Sigata Mitra who is an educational technology professor at the University of Newcastle in England, and is an award winning pioneer in the field of education and cognitive science-which makes him a thought leader in education the world over.

All I can advise parents to do is this-stay involved in your children’s education! Be active in the Parent Teacher Association (or Organization) and know what the school is requiring (or not requiring) of their students. This is even more important with the impending dawn of the Common Core Standards-which 45 states have signed on to. Check out the ladies at http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/ for excellent information on what this utopian ideal is-and how to combat it in your schools.

Don’t accept the dumbing down of our children, practice grammar and spelling at home-and they will thank you (eventually).

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7 Comments
  • Robin H says:

    First they came for math (they don’t need to learn how to add and subtract, they can use calculators), but I did nothing because I hate math. Then they came for the grammar (they can use autocorrect and spell check) and I did nothing because I hate grammar…

    I’m afraid to find out what’s next.

  • Jen says:

    I know several teachers who are ecstatic about not teaching cursive writing.(They must have been Rachel Jeantel’s teachers).
    “Waste of time” they say.

    If anyone wonders about the state of education in this country today, they should read the letters the common, typically homeschooled soldier wrote during the civil war and compare it to today’s high school youth. The ability to write, speak well, form beautiful descriptive sentences, correct punctuation, etc. is amazing, particularly considering the conditions in which the letters were written.

    What’s next? History has been rewritten to the point that not only is it inaccurate, but it is now flagrantly anti-American. I read yesterday that in Texas, a mayor, etc. is fighting the school system that is adopting lesson plans about the Boston Tea Party in which the colonists are called terrorists who attacked and destroyed the private property of others.

  • Laura Dufrene says:

    Makes you wonder how long we have as a nation. If we are willing to dumb down our education, make mindless followers out of our youth, then we cannot be surprised when one day we are slowly invaded and controlled by other countries… oh wait, it’s already happening!

    My parents were very strict about our education. I was writing cursive in first grade, was reading books like “Jane Eyre” and “Great Expectations” by 6th grade, and was taking AP courses in high school. AND I was homeschooled- I taught myself! I went to college and I still push myself yo learn more.

    My husband’s life was the complete opposite and he sees how much he lost out on. So we both are going to push our children to see the value of a good, strong, well-rounded education. I refuse to have slackers and “zombies” for children.

    Just wish others cared.

    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you so much to all of you who commented! I agree with all of you so deeply! As long ad there are people like you in this world-our children will be ok. Keep up the fight folks!

  • True Blue says:

    Just wait until Laws are written -which all *must* obey- by these same methods. We can already see the results of dumbing down the maths and sciences, examples like Boeing’s “Dreamliner” which every other week is grounded by the FAA for technical faults. Technical faults that an earlier generation -a generation that used SLIDE RULES- did not seem to run into with the alarming regularity of today.

  • Jen says:

    True Blue-Touche! What we need to remember is that computers of all types are programmed by people-which makes them fallible.

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