A reader crafts a more constructive point from the students' complaints:
Making fun of bad writing by undergraduates is easy and I admit it is amusing. But maybe instead of decrying the supposed illiteracy of these young people, we should look at these professors' complaints as a symptom of a structural problem in American education. For complex reasons, the United States has chosen the "liberal arts" degree as the basic education credential for middle-class and professional jobs. At the same time, we've maintained a system in which the narrowest concentration and specialization is incentivized in higher levels of academia.
We have also made academic specialization and doctoral degrees essential credentials for college professors. The result has been this: millions of intellectually incurious men and women, who do not want to have high thoughts about books but want to be trained for work, are being forced into "liberal arts" degree programs in which they are to select from classes in every imaginable category. Those classes are taught by advanced specialists in a subject directly related to the class, who, of course, has no patience for beginners' words on his mastered subjects.
One should write clearly, and I think the standard of writing regularly accepted in this country is very low. But are you really going to make fun of eighteen-year-old kids because they don't have original thoughts on works of art? Maybe it's time to offer two writing classes: "Business and Professional Writing" or "Academic Writing".
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