Sunday, August 20, 2006

What Our Op-Ed Pages Isn't Teaching Us

Michael Skube teaches journalism to college students. He also wrote this editorial [subscription - or BugMeNot - possibly required], for which he conspicuously failed to do any actual investigative work. Complains Skube:
In our better private universities and flagship state schools today, it's hard to find a student who graduated from high school with much lower than a 3.5 GPA, and not uncommon to find students whose GPAs were 4.0 or higher. They somehow got these suspect grades without having read much. Or if they did read, they've given it up. And it shows -- in their writing and even in their conversation.
How does he know this? Well, you see, he has "a list of everyday words" that have stumped college students he's talked to. Sounds open-and-shut to me!

As it turns out, Skube's thinking has three big problems. First, he's got a strange definition of "everyday"; words on his list include "impetus" and "pith", both of which I have gone many, many consecutive days without coming across. Second, apparently a word need only be unknown to a single college student to end up on the dreaded Skube Register.

Third, and worst of all, Skube gives no indication - and appears to have no clue - as to whether the undergraduates of today are any worse off than the undergraduates of the past. In fact, he seems to assume that lots of people are unfamiliar with the words in question; of the 9 "everyday words" he identifies as being too advanced for college students, he defines 6 for his readers.

I'm going to start keeping a list of college instructors I find who collect anecdotes, gripe about them, and then confuse the whole thing with science.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

This reminds me of all the occasional retard articles where some faded 50ish boomer would come to Berkeley, awkwardly hang around Sproul on a Friday afternoon, then write long whiny articles about how kids aren't politically involved anymore