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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Learning to Write

For John, BLUFIt is sad that Colleges and Universities are having to do remedial education during the Freshman year.  This is definitely on the various local public schools.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

  • American University will host an event with a professor from a writing center which argues that American grammar is racist.
  • The professor published an essay in which he argues for grading based on the amount of work.

From , by Messieurs Jon Street and Rob Shimshock, 18 January 2019.

Here is the lede plus two:

American University in Washington, D.C. is hosting an event on Feb. 1 on "antiracist" grading with a professor who serves as director of a writing center which argues that American grammar is a "racist," "unjust language structure."

The seminar, titled, "Grading Ain't Just Grading: Rethinking Writing Assessment Ecologies Towards Antiracist Ends," will be led by University of Washington-Tacoma professor Asao Inoue, who previously published an essay titled, "A Grade-less Writing Course that Focuses on Labor and Assessing," in which he argues in favor of "dispens[ing] almost completely with judgments of quality when producing course grades."

"I argue that a productive way to design and teach a first-year writing course is to conceive of it as labor – and calculate course grades by labor completed – and dispense almost completely with judgments of quality when producing course grades," Inoue writes in an essay summary on

Given the state of public education in the United States I think a "no grade" first writing course makes sense.  This problem is not new.  Back in the late 1960s or early 1970s the Air Force moved up when junior officers attended Squadron Officer School.  The reason was the need to improve the writing skills of young officers.

However, at some point, and at an early point, I want to see grades.  As someone who has had to hire people, I have a prejudice for knowing how the person performs, including how they performed at the college level.

The idea that grammar is "racist" is just rubbish.  If we are going to effectively communicate we need to all be on the same sheet of paper.  Or at least striving toward that single understanding of English.  To have a different approach, to me, is to limit the ability of people to get jobs and to advance at work.

On the other hand, not everyone needs to be a great writer, or even a good writer.  However, not everyone is going to move up at work.  Not being able to write an understandable English sentence is going to be a limiter in terms of being hired for certain jobs.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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