Defense of English dept.


Reading through Roxy Hammond’s column last week, I could not ignore many of the blatant grammatical errors. I had to wade through numerous fragments, comma splices, improper uses of punctuation, a lack of parallelism, and poorly chosen diction to try to figure out what you were saying. Having done so, I found little merit in her arguments. After all, grammar is one of the cornerstones of writing a formal essay. If you cannot master grammar, how can you claim the right to an A?

Putting grammar aside, I began to look toward her arguments. Though Roxy may have received approbation in the past, that does not solidify her talent as a writer. For illustration, I ask you to look at the proverbial “big fish in a small pond” parable. One of the facts that most students must face upon coming to college is the knowledge that they are no longer in a high school setting. College is not easy. Having many talents as a writer does not mean your skills cannot be improved.

Perhaps the most damning argument against our English professors, though, is that they took away Roxy’s “sense of self,” and “originality.” I am sorry she feels that way, but originality must be substantiated through logic. Her tirade seems to be merely the emotional outburst of a girl who did not receive the grade she wanted.

At one point, Roxy asks “Did anyone tell Ernest Hemingway how to write?” supposing that no one did. In fact, Hemingway provides an illustration of taking constructive criticism and guidance from one’s predecessors and contemporaries (in this cas,e, authors like Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Stephen Crane) and using it to one’s own advantage. Perhaps Roxy is unable to see the fact that her professor was offering just that: constructive criticism.

So now I must ask our English professors to yes, “let us keep our writing style,” but do not allow us to stagnate in an abyss of poor grammar skills and poorly articulated arguments simply because we want the elusive “A.”

Nancy KneipBrookings