Thursday, March 03, 2011

State Educators and Bad Punctuation

I'm embarrassed to say that I often find educators on every level who don't know some of the fundamentals of punctuation.  Here's one of the basics.  In America, commas and periods go inside final quotation marks.  Schenck pointed out that "commas and periods go inside final quotation marks."  See where I put the period.  That's how we do it in America.

Now mind you, the British way of doing it makes more sense.  In England, commas and periods go outside quote marks, unless of course you are quoting a whole sentence, then the period is part of the quote.  But, for whatever reason, we don't do that here. I'll confess that I have bad thoughts when a fellow professor messes up on such basics, but I won't tell you what they are.

So I was downright disgusted yesterday to find that whoever put together the sample ISTEP materials on the State of Indiana website--for the samples having to do with writing--messed up on this basic.  Have the rules changed, I asked myself?  Rules do change and, as I mentioned, the British way does make more sense.  But I don't think they have.  I suspect, rather, that the state of education is so bad in the US that some on the state level of education don't know what they're doing.

It's not that punctuation is a big deal in real life.  I'm talking about educators and the people who direct educators.  In this realm, this sort of flub calls into question your competency as an educator.

I leave you with a homework assignment my son brought home the other day asking which was more: 0.01 grams or 10 milligrams.  I was puzzled: gram, decigram, centigram, milligram.  0.01 grams is a centigram, which is 10 milligrams.  I double checked myself, went online.  Yep, they're the same.  I had him write, "They're equal."

The teacher marked it wrong.


Darrell Pursiful said...

Tuesday night I covered my daughter's homework assignment sheets with proofreaders' marks drawing attention to glaring mistakes. It's really better for her to do homework with her mom....

Ken Schenck said...

I just had a brainstorm, the best solution for America's public school problem I've ever heard. What we really need in failing schools is two teachers per classroom, one to maintain order and the other to teach content. The former needs to be skilled at discipline and building character. The latter needs to be a skilled teacher. The two only rarely coincide.

Mark Schnell said...

So in other words, teachers are expected to be like pastors, the masters of everything.

Yes, I know, I probably messed up the punctuation in this. ;-)

Ken Schenck said...

If you're talking about my comment above, yes, I think teachers are expected to be nice and form the character of students who will be in jail before they're 20 while effectively teaching other students who will become nuclear physicists. They do this while being told by the government that they are losers because some child who has watched live porno in his home since birth, whose mom has him go up to the door to buy the drugs, can't pass ISTEP.

Mark Schnell said...

I agreed with your comment, btw. I think anytime we expect people to work so far outside their areas of giftedness and aptitude we are setting everyone up to fail.

Nathaniel said...

Google will do all similar conversions for you. :)

Regarding education, I think the UK does it better: schools are segregated by academic ability and once your pre-collegiate education is finished (at an earlier age then here) you are placed in one of two tracks based upon your ability: the academic track where you go to university and the life skills track where you learn a trade.

The "put them all in one pot" approach isn't working. Neither is the "you have to go to college to get a job" approach.

I'm not a big fan of the privatize-everything approach (I'm a democrat), but I do think that the school vouchers program makes sense and that, if education were a free market, this is exactly the structure the free market would produce.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

You are onto something when you say that adminstrators aren't interested in content but efficiency/order.

In a Christian context, 'order' (creationism) is of uptmost importance, and this is why content suffers. It is for the "church"'s survival that content isn't important.

This is unfortunatly why the humanities suffer, while science gets funded, because of economic benefit.

Your analogy of teachers being scapegoated is classic!

I wish when we'd moved here, I'd been, interested in content as much as "order", for my children's sake!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

If anyone is interested in my view of "Moral Order", I just posted on my blog;

Bethany Brengan said...

A post on punctuation! My heart is warmed.

According the newest edition of _The Chicago Manual of Style_, the rules haven't changed. (_CMoS_ allows for some exceptions to the period-inside-the-quotation-marks rule, but these are rare and strange.)

And since I neglected to say this earlier: I've been enjoying your blog.

Ken Schenck said...

You should have seen the debate on the Facebook version, Bethany ;-)