A Plea to the Children of America

I may have mentioned that I am the Proof Editor for my school’s yearbook this year. Well, we started the book about 2 weeks ago and last week on Friday I got to edit everyone’s copy. Some were good; just some wording errors and little things to fix. Others (most) were absolutely terrible. I sat at my desk questioning how these people even got to high school. Their spelling, capitalization, and punctuation were terrible. Not terrible, horrible. Atrocious! How can you forget that a name is capitalized? How can you forget to put a period at the end of a sentence? And we all remember that paragraphs are indented, right? No? Why! Not to mention their sentences hardly made sense (don’t worry, I tore their papers apart with my red pen and they’re improving). The scary thing was that everyone in yearbook, except for one person, are either juniors or seniors, so by the time they graduate they might still not know how to write a decent sentence! (I want to give all the people that can write gift baskets. At least some kind of treat after deadline. Maybe it will motivate the others.)

I wanted to stand up and start ranting about it to the class, but I edited the majority of them in my 3rd period yearbook-extension/TA period and I’m the only one in the room. One of the worst ones I read did not even follow the format our teacher spent 2 or 3 weeks drilling into our heads. These people are in high school and about to go out into the world and I hope that they will either learn how to write before June or go into a profession in which they need no writing skills whatsoever. It gave me a new respect for English teachers. And also made me never, ever, ever want to be a teacher. Before I just never, ever wanted to be a teacher. It added an extra “ever”.

So my plea to all the children and young adults out there is to please, for the love of all that is good learn how to write! I know we have crazy new-fangled technology that has caused you to change “you” to “u” (which are pronounced differently, by the way) and “are” to “r” and things that capitalize words for you but that is no excuse not to do it when you write. Especially the period thing because Word doesn’t just put periods places. As an aspiring writer I hold these things very highly (and I bet there is some kind of typo in here somewhere and I apologize), so please learn how to write! Preferably before you get into high school because at that point you move from writing structure to analyzing books and writing about them. At least know how to spell and capitalize and punctuate correctly. This is all I ask. You don’t have to write the next great American novel or be a wiz with words, just know how to write so that I don’t cringe when I read. I want to be able to pick something up and only have to stare at a sentence for five minutes because it’s worded oddly, well, I would rather I didn’t have to do that either, but at least be able to know where a sentence begins and ends and what’s a name and what isn’t.

I could never be a teacher. I have a weird thing with children and I would lose my mind trying to teach them how to capitalize, and in the high school level if I saw that as a teacher I would rip their paper into shreds and make them do it all again from scratch. I’d do that now but we have deadlines to make so doing that wouldn’t be a very good idea. Just please, please, please learn how to write! Look at books, they do everything correctly, so you should too! Please? *bangs head against desk*

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5 thoughts on “A Plea to the Children of America

  1. Great article. Do you think that maybe this entire social media and its way of using spelling and phrases have made this mess? Or perhaps the social media is just reflecting the terrible English situation.

  2. I understand! It does make me cringe when I see a lot of misspellings (not your basic ones–I admit I do misspell sometimes, but horrid big mistakes), and terrible grammar mistakes. English isn’t my first language, and I spent all of my life learning how to “master” English. Through this; I have become a bit picky!!! I’m not always perfect though…..

    I edited a paper for a person once, and she was in graduate school. I was stunned that she had no basic understanding how to form a sentence, and to use grammar properly. She was unable to spell or cite work from other sources. Her paper ended up looking like rainbow with all red and blue scribbles. It was just horrid because she was 27 yet she was unable to write a paper and…the scary part was; she graduated and was on her way to become a psychologist.

  3. I am an elementary school teacher of gifted students, and I am constantly lamenting their lack of writing skills. It’s a little disturbing to read that it doesn’t get any better in high school. Seriously, how hard is it to remember to capitalize a name – or the beginning of a sentence?

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