From prestigious, big city universities to obscure, rural technical institutes, English instructors loudly lament that students entering their classes cannot write a decent paragraph. Take any composition at random. Its grammar is sloppy, its structure is nonexistent, and its thoughts are incoherent.
English teachers are quick to cite reasons for this degeneration in writing skills: high school mini-courses have lured students away from less glamorous subjects like grammar and composition; four-year colleges, because of unrelenting financial pressure, are now forced to lower their academic standards, letting in multitudes of semi-illiterates who should not have been allowed to graduate from high school in the first place; and worse of all, our society no longer respects the written word—as our hackneyed and hack-worked best sellers indicate.
There is little doubt that too many students today in college have poor writing skills. But self-righteously blaming others for this unfortunate situation is self-defeating. The English faculty must squarely confront its students’ deficiencies in grammar and composition.