Thursday, December 13, 2012


The WORDmeister says: For Day 4 of Final Exam Week as the first half of this 18th WORD season comes to a close, some enduring advice for students—and their teachers—completing projects and exams.

The Long Descent

I have witnessed the steady growth of literary ignorance during a career of more than a third of a century. Many of my students arrive in my writing and editing classes as college juniors with an almost total ignorance of English grammar and usage and only a smattering of any foreign language. And these are prospective journalists whom one would expect to be less illiterate. But the blame is hardly theirs. It belongs mostly to their teachers.
John Bremner (1920-1997), journalism professor, in the introduction of his Words on Words: A Dictionary for Writers and Others Who Care About Words, 1980 URL
• Editorial Comment: Mea culpa

Yesterday’s WORD: Did you miss yesterday’s WORDs about the joy of language from legendary journalism and writing professor John Bremner? Click here.
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  1. I've been equally surprised by journalism students who can't write (and don't read). My first reaction to Bremner's comment was that it's too easy to blame teachers. My second reaction was, he's right. I don't know where the data is, but based on watching my own kids and talking with other parents, I suspect that most students are not served well by writing instruction in public schools. If students aren't reading and writing at home, it's nearly an impossible job.

  2. We rebelled against learning grammar in my high-school English classes. The teacher covered it, but the natives were restless, shall we say. A sullen insurrection hovered in the air, and ennui reigned until we moved onto another topic. Maybe 'twas ever thus.