April 27, 2008

Beginning to Breathe Again

It has been a truly crazy couple of weeks, but I have a chance to come up for just a little bit of air today. I've hardly looked at so much as a newspaper lately and have managed to look at blogs I follow only sporadically. I don't even know where to begin writing again; this has been the longest break I've taken from writing in nearly seven years. Where to begin catching up?

Most of my time has been taken up between writing a review paper for a class I'm taking and grading, grading, grading. The latter has been a bit disappointing, really. It still mystifies me that students can graduate from high school and be perilously close to functional illiteracy. I wish I could share some examples of this, but that would be unethical. Suffice to say that if all the standardized testing has failed to screen the kinds of things I'm commonly seeing then it's past time to stop deluding ourselves that the scores from these tests say anything meaningful. Clearly, university students should be able to read and write at much more level than the fifth and sixth grade levels I commonly see. More than that, they need to be able to synthesize information into a larger picture of how the world works and distinguish emotional arguments from reasoned ones. Until that becomes a prevalent skill, I guess we're pretty much screwed as a culture.

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