Frosh Writing: Tip of the Hat

Item one: In the continuation of my previous post, I woke up at six thirty this morning and it was TWENTY THREE DEGREES outside. This is preposterous. I did not move a thousand miles south (and several thousand miles west) for BELOW FREEZING temperatures. Someone needs to do something about this. Our old, ill-used heater is about to kick the bucket.

Item two: Here is an email I sent to a few peeps the other morning:

In other news, I am pre-grading a horrific batch of final papers. I’m working on a blog post of “best of” quotes, but I wanted to share this paragraph opener with you.
“Sex offenders should think twice before harming a child and an excellent way to humiliate a criminal is by public shame.”
What could have been a phenomenally interesting and philosophically challenging paragraph (“humiliate” is an attention grabber, I think) quickly descends into a mire of vindictive platitudes and random, unrelated stats and quotations. The paragraph never recovers. Rather than being persuaded, I end up feeling almost sorry for the bad guys, which is pretty much the exact opposite of how this writer wanted their paper to turn out.
I have never been more thankful for our collective powers of quality argument and debate than in the past three months. There’s a lot of crap out there, getting college degrees. *Shudder.*
Thank you, parents, for teaching us to think critically and communicate clearly. A hundred thousand thanks.

At work, I’ve spent the last two days reading packet after packet of barely legible English. Forty-eight hours ago I was disgusted by the obvious laziness of these writers. Now… I’m not so sure. Perhaps there is something more going on here (along with laziness; I’m pretty sure laziness is at least partially involved)?

In the hazy, distant past that was my first year of college, I seem to recall struggling mightily with the transition between high-school and college-level compositions. When I finally figured it out, about two weeks into my sophomore year (after a year’s hiatus where I determined I did NOT want to waitress for the rest of my life), my skills improved with lightning speed.

I left that floundering frosh year of poor organization and sloppy citation and inappropriate quotes behind. And I forgot all about it.

However. I pulled my transcript out a few days ago and was reminded of that unhappier time by the abysmally low grades which stared back at me from block number one: The First Year. In a flood of remembered-anxiety, all that near-failure came rushing back.

I really did not know what I was doing.

And it was only with the repeated, exasperated attempts by various instructors that I ever caught on.

Now, when I look back at writing that seemed SO BRILLIANT at the time, I am amused and slightly disgusted. None of MY stuff was that much better than what I’m reading this week. I just have the satin-glaze of time to smooth out all the rough edges of my own poor early attempts.

It’s good to look back. Those who fail to learn from history and all that jazz. With that in mind, I share these quotes with you, and invite you to take a hypothetical look “back” at how I’ve spent my week. Why should these students be the only ones who get to (someday) look at these lines and think, “GOD that’s bad!”

All quotes are transcribed in their original form. (I’ll have you know it was a battle royale with the spelling/grammar check.) Read them out loud for the best effect. Then try to figure out the essay subject.

Final thought before I leave you to it: The students who wrote these gems will be better writers one day, and it’s all because of me (and their actual teachers).

“Bullies can grow up with anger they have and do crazy things, which can give them the title a criminal, as well as students who were bullied.”

“The only risk is not just death but also the huge risk of the doctor not doing the right thing or one boob not matching the other.”

“Since preferring males over females, there are more males that are wondering the streets of China.”

“Exposing your childe to that environment with out teenager’s knowledge on who really is watching or reading what they send.”

“Today army has the best trained men and women in the world and that is due to they want to be there and their is no one telling they have to fight they are fighting for what they believe in.”

“Cohorts indicate that cloning has been a great attribute to science and can only hope it is not just the climax.”

“As people get older in age their features seem to change, their ears get bigger, noses get bigger, lips begin to shrivel, and faces tend to draw up.”

My favorites:

“Parents, with the help of the community, are determined to empower pedophiles for their children’s safe regard.”

“Global Warming, mother natures cry to the American society will continue to worsen and our defense will be the cap and trade program, it will be Americans—Superman.”

“Gender selections can one day become a gender epidemic.”

“This predicament can cause many sexual crimes such as; celibacy, polyandry, homosexuality, prostitution, rape, and other sex crimes.”

7 thoughts on “Frosh Writing: Tip of the Hat”

  1. Sympathizing with the 23 degrees. I was feeling sad yesterday to finally see the frost arrive here in SC along with the departure of the flowers. How shocking to encounter this is desert country!

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