The other night I watched The Plank presenting his Monday night programme.
When that was over, I switched over to the Dreaded TV3 and watched Vincent Brown present his.
Both programmes were discussing the standard of education here in Ireland [amongst other things], which at first seemed like a strange coincidence, until you realise that the teachers are all holding their conferences at this time of year.
I had a fairly standard education in a middle-of-the-road school. Well, actually it was at the side of the road, but you know what I mean. I went through the whole system of learning my tables off by heart, having grammar beaten into me with a nine-inch lump of leather, and all the suffering and pain that went with an education in the middle of the last century.
I suppose I have become far more aware lately of words, grammar and spelling as they are the only tools I have at my disposal when scribbling on this site. I enjoy words. They are like ingredients in a recipe, where you can throw words around to try to create a delectable sentence.
One thing I have noticed on various sites however is the number of errors that would have landed me a weeks detention back at school. There were certain things that were beaten into us [and I don’t use the word metaphorically] such as the difference between ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ or the troublesome ‘its’ and ‘it’s’. Punctuation is apparently less of a problem for the modern generation, as a lot of them don’t bother with it at all. I have seen a few sites out there where a post consists of one massive block of words, with only the occasional full-stop and ne’er a comma to be seen. Capital letters are shunned like the plague, unless we come to the ubiquitous OMG which is always written in capitals.
Worst of all is the appalling Text Speak. There are few thing more guaranteed to drive me into a rage than the use of single letters and numbers. “R U going out 2nite?” “MayB L8ter”. That kind of shite is perfectly acceptable in the world of texting, but anywhere else? That is a big no. Yet kids leave school these days with the apparent notion that this is all perfectly acceptable.
I have heard of professors bemoaning the fact that a lot of entrants to university haven’t got a decent grasp of spelling and grammar, but even worse, I have heard many would-be employers saying that job applications come in full of bad spelling, bad grammar and bad punctuation. Would you give a job to someone who can’t spell? I wouldn’t. Unless of course it was for a job behind the counter of a fast food dive.
Of course maths is another topic. Do any kids learn their tables these days? Have they never been introduced to the concept of mental arithmetic? I have lost count of the number of times I have been in a shop and have mentally totted up the total while the young assistant is still struggling with the till or the calculator. They have looked at me open mouthed when I explained that I totted the bill in my head. This is obviously a foreign concept.
I’m not setting myself up as the Grammar Police. It isn’t up to me to criticise anyone’s education or lack thereof.
I just wonder what the hell they are teaching in schools these days.