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   English 12 Writing
    (March 7, 2006)


Bob writes a short article that follows Crawford Kilian's five guidelines (PDF file) for writing on the web. In his article, Bob presents a positive outlook on today's students and expresses his confidence in their future success.

Graduating High School Students

There is an ongoing debate as to whether high school students have learned enough literacy skills to be successful when going on to higher learning.

A serious problem?

Bernie Gaidosch, an English instructor said, “Students come to college with ninth-grade-level writing skills.” (Erin O’Conner; It's not just American students) I find this hard to accept; maybe a few students are pushed through the system, but usually they end up dropping out, and shouldn’t be used as examples of students with low literacy skills.

Is our testing system at fault?

Justus Havelaar, a retired English teacher, also thinks graduating Grade 12 students are weak.. He says, “Students who earn high marks on provincial exams go on to fail first year university courses.” (How to Graduate Better Writers)  Havelaar blames this on “weak” provincial exams and teachers only “teaching to the test.” In one swoop of the brush, he manages to paint all teachers as leaderless sheep. I’m sure most teachers will undoubtedly find such words offensive. Teachers teach what the curriculum sets out, and this is what the students are tested on.

I understand what Crawford Kilian means when he says, “Of course students can’t read or write." (Is Literacy Overrated?) The naysayers will probably be saying the same thing (lacking literacy skills) when these same students go on to their masters degree. In other words, it’s an old story.

Mastering the basic skills.

Kilian goes on to say, “When [the students] need to master basic skills they will.” Let’s give students the credit they deserve; after all, they are passing. These are the students who will be our next politicians, teachers, and business leaders.

Any student capable of passing the provincial exams will, if they want, master the skills needed to succeed in the higher learning of their choice. If anything, their transition is what will be the most difficult, but I’m positive most students will be up to the task.




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