College students who can’t write correct English

Alex Small, a physics professor, is frustrated with white, middle-class college students who can’t write grammatically correct English.

I’m in a dark mood from grading.  If I have to constantly correct errors of subject-verb agreement in papers written by native English speakers from the majority ethnic/racial group, then higher education is pretty much doomed. I’m emphasizing their ethnic majority status because we can’t blame this on some sort of disadvantage.  [snip]

Alex Small

Alex Small

The dominant group will periodically allow some sort of largess by which “those people” get their “special program” and if they still don’t succeed then the dominant group can write them off with a clear conscience.  And if they do succeed, the dominant group can put an asterisk on their success, because they obviously only got there thanks to the “special program” (an asterisk that will make some seethe with resentment while others pat themselves on the back).

However, the dominant group will never tolerate their own kids being treated with benevolent condescension.  Good middle-class kids from the dominant group can’t possibly be failing, because their kids are (by definition) the measure of success for the mainstream.  Their kids will get degrees.  Period.

Source: Physicist at Large

I usually dislike the term “white privilege” because it implies people getting something they shouldn’t have.  Not being scared when you’re stopped by police isn’t a privilege.  It’s how everybody should be able to feel.

But the term does apply here, although maybe “upper middle-class suburban privilege” might be more exact.

Anyway, I’m going to say right here, right now, that the reason I’m so frustrated with my students is that their parents didn’t make them read enough.  They figured it was “too hard” to make their kids do homework.  They were more interested in pushing their kids to excel in sports than they were in making their kids read.

Seriously, it’s amazing how invested suburban parents are in sports.  A lot of these kids graduate from high school unable to write a grammatically correct sentence or do algebra, but they can all kick a soccer ball.

Source: Physicist at Large

Anti-intellectualism in American life goes back to Tom Sawyer and his cousin Sid.   As a rich and growing nation, it was a luxury we could afford.  I think we’re moving into an era when this will no longer be so.

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One Response to “College students who can’t write correct English”

  1. Atticus Says:

    I think a better term is “white benefit”. Privilege seems derogatory and demeaning to me. It’s just narcissistic to me. I get the term, but there are white benefits, black benefits, etc.

    Affirmative action is a benefit, being able to make jokes about any race is a benefit, and people making positive assumptions about your because of your race is a benefit. I just don’t like the associates with the word privilege.


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