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This blog is part of my life journey. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me and maybe join in the discussion...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The State of Edjucashun inn Amerika (w/ BOTB results)

Abandoned School
Abandoned School (Photo credit: Atelier Teee)

        Recently I was on the internet making some motel reservations and while doing so I read through the reviews on the travel sites I visited.  I was amused by some of the grammar and spelling errors in these reviews.  After reading some of the funnier ones to my daughter, she wondered why some of these people didn't bother to read back over what they'd written to correct errors.  My suggestion was that it probably didn't matter because this was probably the way they wrote and they wouldn't even notice the writing errors they had made.

        I suppose that some of the poor writing could be attributed to people having written their reviews on their phones or whatever devices people use in lieu of actual typing on a keyboard.  I think that a lot of people actually have truly bad grammar and spelling skills and these reviews reflect that level of poor education.  Whatever the case, I wonder about the education of today's young people.  Do we fault the schools?  The parents?  The culture?  The kids?   And now Common Core is being instituted in schools throughout the United States.   I wonder if they'll include "Text speak" as part of the language program.

        At least teach kids how to spell...

Battle of the Bands Results:  The Banjo Song

        Speaking of spelling, there was some annoyance about the spelling out of the word "banjo" in the song used in my most recent Battle, "The Banjo Song".  The spelling out of words in songs is quite common so I was surprised that some of the voters did not like this song gimmick.  It's mostly a novelty idea from the standpoint of songwriting.   Spelling words in songs does not particularly annoy me though I'm not overly fond of ditties such as the folk song "Bingo" or the "Lollipop Song" that I used to hear my sister sing.  "Lollipop" was a reworking of the George M Cohan song "Harrigan".

          The bottom line is that not many of the voters in this contest even liked "The Banjo Song".  Not only did they not like the song, many did not like the artists whose versions were presented.  Tough contest.  Neil Young won by default I would say.  A few--myself included--are Neil Young fans.  I'm an avid Neil Young fan.  But I also enjoyed the version by The Big 3.  As many of you know, I like a wide spectrum of music and often go against the grain of the more common tastes of the majority of the population.  What can I say? There's no accounting for taste sometimes.

          My vote went to Neil Young.  Of course.  And even if I had voted otherwise, Neil Young would have won handily.

         The final tally:

    Neil Young and Crazy Horse 15 votes

     Big 3       4 votes

     My next Battle of the Bands pairing will take a real turn.  It's an incredibly beautiful tune first done by a jazz artist.   Be here on August 1st to vote on the next Battle.

      Do you think modern media has had an adverse effect on language?   Are many kids today coming out of the educational system knowing less than kids in the past?   Should we be concerned about Common Core?


  1. Different countries have different ways of spelling the same way, for example you in the US spells center, where we in the UK spells the same word Centre, the list goes on.
    Interesting subject Lee.

  2. Sadly it's a reflection of how poorly people read, write, and speak.
    Sorry, didn't like the Banjo Song either.

  3. I do think modern media has a lot to do with poor language skills. In the future I think the whole structure of the English language will change radically because of texting. However, it's not just the use of language, I read a report, years ago, of students at a college in Florida being shown a blank map of the US and being asked to point out the location of Florida. None of them could do so.

  4. If you really want to crack your daughter up, have her read the comments section under almost any post on almost any local news site.

  5. I get so vexed when I see common mistakes, esp. the your / you're thing. The other day, actor Christopher Meloni posted something on FB...he spelled out every single word except substituted 4 instead of 'for'. I couldn't help commenting, 'you spell out all the words but you can't spell out for?' Some woman came snotting back at me with, 'If your going to correct grammar or spelling then it would be four not for'.

    I couldn't help snotting back at her, 'Well the proper usage of the word in that sentence was 'for' and by the way, y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e means YOU ARE. Y-o-u-r means your'.

  6. Sorry I missed the BOTBs this month, Lee, but I would have voted for Neil Young of course.

    Hubs is slowly recovering from his heart attack, but it may take months, and I'm just now able to venture back into the blogging community. Music we enjoyed together and listening to any music early on in this event was something I couldn't do.

    What we sow today in education, good or bad seeds of trendy or flawed language, will affect the following generations.

    First, that is a really cool picture of that abandoned schoolhouse.

    >>... Do you think modern media has had an adverse effect on language?

    Oh, absolutely! There is no question about it. All this texting jargon - substituting numbers for words - and thinking mostly in terms of slang has, I believe, caused kids to ignore real spelling and correct grammar. I liked JoJo's response to this question.

    >>... Are many kids today coming out of the educational system knowing less than kids in the past?

    Without a doubt. SAT scores have diminished over the years, and kids I have spoken with, and young people I've seen interviewed on television programs all indicate to me that most of these kids today are behind where I was at their age. And bare in mind that I myself was not a very good student during my school years, yet I believe I was ahead of most kids today when I was at their same educational level.

    >>... Should we be concerned about Common Core?

    What I have read and heard about it, which admittedly is pretty limited, I do think that we should be concerned about Common Core.

    And lastly, about the spelling of certain words in some songs, it really doesn't bother me at all, however, it's not something I often find especially enjoyable to listen to. Generally, it neither improves the song or ruins it. There's one BIG exception to that though, and it's the song 'Waymore's Blues' by Waylon Jennings. In this instance I find that the spelling of certain words adds to the appeal of the song. At least it does for me. I think it adds a fun element to the song which would otherwise not seem particularly special.

    Below is a link to the song in question, if you're at all interested in hearing it:


    I want to address this next comment to D.G. Hudson:
    Hey, D.G., I am very sorry to hear that your husband had a heart attack! I urgently suggest that you obtain and read a book by Dick Quinn titled 'LEFT FOR DEAD'. It was originally published in 1992, and I am a very firm believer in the remedies explained in that book. (I myself became a big believer in Lecithin, and I do the “12-Day Lecithin Flush' every once in awhile.) If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask them at my blog.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  8. The truth is that people in general are much better educated now than they ever have been historically speaking. 150 years ago, not being able to read, at least above a very basic level, was the norm.

  9. You should talk, Lee!

    Your blog title used the word "inn" instead of "in!"

    On a serious note, what mystifies me the most are e-mails with spelling errors, as there is this feature called spell check.

    And to Andrew's comment, there is no question that a comparison to the 19th century would show a favorable education trend.

    However, a comparison to half a century ago would show a decline.

    I did a piece on my 'USSR" blog a ways back that shows the statistics (if you accept SAT scores as a measure).

    So I would posit that our education efforts (results?) have slipped in the last fifty years, and that some of the lazy habits that come with social media are adding to the result.

    But since all the decent jobs are going to India and China, today's young people will be more than qualified for what will be left!


  10. I don't think anyone can successfully argue that education is improving. We can all argue about why it is deteriorating, though.

    Look forward to your next BOTB!

  11. Yvonne-- I don't know where the spelling differences came about between UK English and USA English, but it is rather curious.

    Alex -- "The Banjo Song" was almost as disliked as "I Wanna Get Close to You" that I used on an earlier Battle.

    Jo-- You are right about that lack of general knowledge in a good many people. I don't understand it but I think a lot can be attributed to intellectual laziness.

    CW-- That's true, but the motel reviews I was reading were ridiculous.

    JoJo-- That's funny. I know I make similar errors when I'm in a hurry, but I wouldn't want to err in correcting others about their errors.

    DG--The literature of the future might be an interesting and frightening thing while the great literature of the past might be dismissed as archaic.


  12. StMc-- The funny thing is that some of the skills acquired by education--especially the use of language--was poor in our generation compared to some previous generations and it's only grown worse.

    The Waylon song was a good example of the spelling and I'm sure that if you really gave it some more thought you come up with more and even better examples.


  13. Andrew -- I would agree to a certain extent about your point, but I would reemphasize the factor of intellectual laziness. There are an awful lot of dumb people out there. Most people would probably prefer to watch TV than read and that should be of some concern to writers unless they are writing for TV.

    Larry-- "Inn" was appropriate since I was talking about motels. I think many young people in the US are ashamed of good education and disdain appearing to be intelligent.

    Robin-- Some more extensive blog posts on the state of education are called for.


  14. Be very concerned about Common Core. It is the great 'dumbing down' of education. It is going to get worse.

  15. Is Common Core as bad as No Child Left Behind? Because that wasn't a good idea either.

  16. To Stephen T. McCarthy: I appreciate the personal comment and I will look at that book. I also believe established medicine doesn't always look at alternate remedies. I've been going every day to the hospital, sometimes twice to ensure he gets good care. All nurses aren't created equal. Hubs is out of ICU and CCU but recovery will be slow. I will visit your blog later today.
    You and Robin have cheered me today.

  17. I attribute a lot of it to just plain laziness...especially on the part of adults, who should know better.

    Better "education" doesn't, necessarily, mean smarter people.

  18. LEE ~
    I'll add an addendum to my previous comment.

    While it's true that 200 or 150 years ago the percentage of the American populace that had a full education was probably lower than what we have today. Agriculture on family owned farms was a widespread source of income and so often the kids dropped out of school in the elementary grades in order to help run the family business.

    However, those who did complete their schooling in those times wound up with a far greater education than kids do today who complete their schooling.

    But as DiscConnected pointed out, over the course of the last 50 or so years, since more children attend classes through the high school level of education (family farming having mostly died out), there has definitely been a drop in education.

    Also, those people who DID get a full education back in, say, our Founding Father's era were exceedingly better educated than people today.

    If we look at some of the books and concepts that our Founding Fathers and others in their time were using, they were remarkably more profound and intellectually challenging than textbooks and ideas that are discussed in our higher grades today.

    Those "old tyme" folks were well versed in the classic literature and philosophical ideas that our modern children would never mentally grasp and be able to use.

    There is also the famous story about when Davy Crockett was running for reelection and was thoroughly schooled on Constitutional principles by a backwoods farmer named Horatio Bunce. This indicates that even some farmers back in those times had a good understanding of some complex issues and were hardly ignorant, but self-educated on important matters.

    Lastly, I have a friend named Al and he's got a daughter in high school. He said that his daughter (and her friends) are far less mature and far less educated than we were in those same years of study.

    It seems the more money we throw at education the worse our education system gets, turning out "Johnnies that can't read". I believe there's an explanation for that but I won't go into the details of it now.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    D.G., I'll be happy to tell you a bit more about that book and why I believe in the natural remedies it promotes.

  19. A few years ago, I wrote a post titled, "Text Messages and Emails" and went back to see if you'd commented. You did. :) It is not questions you have here, however, indirectly related.

    Just under your comment is one from Julie Magers Soulen, who commented that language is a "living thing" and asked how'd we'd feel if we were speaking Old English. Her point was that language evolves.

    As for writing and spelling, I believe that it's part education and part genetic. I sit on a Board with a highly educated woman who is a dynamic leader. After reading a few things she's written, I deduced that, well... I guess you get the point. And then there are those who are dyslexic, or have other issues...

  20. The simple fact is that people need to care enough to correct their errors. Until they do language will not be a priority.

  21. In regards to the education and who is to blame...all of them! To make everything easier we are creating a village of idiots. When I watched the documentary on the Civil War by ken Burns I marveled at the letters written by young men. They were so eloquent and it was beautiful to hear these letters. Now the average boy say "Yo-Hows it goin..." When you listen to many sports figures and rap-crap "artists" (I use that term artist really loosely) they speak horribly and more and more people seem to idolize them-ughhh. I believe we need to get back to actually writing things down in schools and have them open up a real book and read aloud while they sit up straight. I would make sure they have no hand held devices and no gum allowed! Oh oh Here I go again! Can't wait for the next battle of the bands and I did like the first one so I was one of four:)

  22. I don't believe you can appreciate how awful grammar has become until you visit chatrooms (not counting ones specifically for writers).

    "OMG i no kids u wud totes b liek yuk"

    I am really against Common Core. Adamantly.

  23. Sorry to hijack your blog, Lee.

    Stephen-interesting commentary on education in the 19th century-I would have assumed it would have been inferior just because it was so hard to come by, but I did not have anything to back my assumption up. I just did a quick search and it turns out if was for more organized and formal than I knew.

    I can say with certainty that SAT scores have declined since the early seventies.

    In my post "AMERIKUN EDJUCASHION" way back in 2010 ( I showed some stats on the decrease:

    Between 1972 and 1992, the combined math and verbal scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) fell from an average of 937 to 899. This drop occurred despite the fact that the U.S. doubled its per-pupil spending, from $2,611 to $5,521 (in 1990 dollars) between 1965 and 1990.

    I may keep looking to see if there are any kind of "SAT-equivalents" for the 19th century-that would be an interesting comparison.


    PS-it's all yours, Lee!

  24. Didn't you hear, Lee. We don't have to teach the kids how to spell anymore. They have Spellcheck!

    What really bothers me is the decision in many schools not to teach writing (as opposed to printing, also referred to as cursive). Someone seems to have decided that it serves no purpose now that we all have keyboards. Unfortunately, if children are not taught to write in cursive, they don't learn to read it either. Many kids today can't translate a simple handwritten note.

  25. Susan GK-- I hope it doesn't get worse, but I fear that you are correct.

    L. Diane-- All I know is that my teacher wife and many of her colleagues dread and dislike using the Common Core approach.

    DG -- We have a supportive group. Glad you were uplifted.

    Mark-- Bingo. Some of the most educated people seem to be the least practical.

    StMc-- Very well said. Books from the 19th century can be quite deep and thoughtfully written.


  26. Anita-- I agree that language evolves, but I'm not sure that dumbing it down is a good evolutionary process.

    Sheena-Kay-- And the problem today is that not only do a lot of people not care, but appearing to be uneducated is admired in certain circles.

    Birgit-- Those letters from that era have also struck me--they were more articulate than much correspondence of today.

    Jennifer-- I avoid chat rooms partly for that reason. I can't understand a lot of it.

    Larry-- Take over the comments for as long as you like whenever you have something to say. That's what it's all about in my thinking.

    LD-- Cursive probably contributes some level of intellectual advancement. It is too bad that they don't encourage it more and in many cases don't even teach it.


  27. You couldn't have started your post with a better comment than you did today--at least for me. My new book has a lot to do with that very issue.

    As to the banjo. . .I usually enjoy that instrument. It makes me happy. I think the artists just missed the mark on this song.

  28. The only thing I can say on education is I heard Common Core isn't that great. Someone I talk to on Twitter has to use it for her kids and she hates it.

  29. Hey Lee,

    Yes sir, teach the kids how to spell correctly. As in English, English. What do you reckon, my good friend?

    Neil Young, being Canadian, will be spelling words in proper English, eh.

    All the best.


  30. On websites, I do suspect a fair number of typos from phone and tablet postings (along with an occasional humorous auto-correct insertion). But many people do not spell well, particularly in "informal" online activities.

    A blend of indifference, text-speak habits, and ignorance, I would say. And this is from the ones tech-savvy enough to post online. There is sadly also a good percentage of Americans for whom "poor-spelling" would be a huge leap from "can't-spell-at-all."

    As to the BOTB -- I'm not surprised Neil won. but I am surprised at the number of people who don't like him. I've always been a big fan.

    And if Neil had been from Quebec, would he have spelled it B-A-N-G-E-A-U?

  31. Oh -- and by the way: I'll be taking part in the BOTB again on Aug 1st!

    Already got it written and queued up. :)

  32. C.Lee-- Better education is always worth encouraging.

    Patricia -- I'm hearing a lot of bad things about it and much comes from teachers.

    Gary-- I'm not so much concerned about the differences between UK/US spelling as the blatant misspellings and misuse of words in general.

    Chris-- It will be good to have you back. I'll add your link back on my list.


  33. I was told that texting, instant messaging and communications via smart phone, is not held to the same standard as writing or typing via keyboards, or by hand.

    I don't know about that, but I totally agree with your thoughts on the subject.

    Rust Never Sleeps!

  34. I think grammar, punctuation, orthography, and writing skills in general are suffering because people just don't read as often as they used to. I'm so embarrassed for college-educated adults who sincerely don't know the difference between your and you're, its and it's, whose and who's, there, their, and they're, were and where, too and to, et al. It's like they don't read enough to know those are really embarrassing, childish mistakes, or they've forgotten the corrections they hopefully got when they made those mistakes on papers in school.

    I sometimes wonder if young people use textspeak on job applications and résumés.

  35. I saw the title of your post on Robin Richard's blog roll and had to hop over to check it out.

    I just retired from teaching after 25 years, supposedly to pursue writing as a full time career, but mainly because I could not stomach what has become of education in our country.

    I taught LESS in my final year of teaching than in any year prior, including my first year when I was practically still a kid myself. Last year was the year my school adopted the Common Core curriculum, and all I did was prepare students for tests all year.

    I could give you a long list of all the things I did not teach last year, the meaningful activities we did not do, and how many hours I spent administering tests instead of teaching. But I won't.

    I'll just say I couldn't live with this distorted, twisted version of the profession I used to love, and my husband *begged* be to quit. So I did.

  36. Pat--I cannot bring myself to the more modern standards of condensed communication, but I don't text either.

    Carrie--If I were hiring I'd be wary of any candidate with poor communication skills.

    Dianne-- My wife is saying much what you are and she only teaches kindergarten. Who is in charge? Certainly not the teachers.


  37. Really enjoyed your post and everyone's thoughts. Over here there's been an obvious decline in all education standards. I'm sure our problems started when the accepted test format was changed to project based work. Every few years whichever government is in charge they bring in some new system that's going to fix everything, but it never does. Until children start respecting teachers and appreciating that they have the opportunity to be able to be schooled I can't see it changing any time soon.

    I agree with Anita that language evolves - and very grateful we don't speak olde English - but that doesn't excuse illiteracy(excluding dyslexic etc.) Children don't understand that it will impact on every area of their lives as they get older.

    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe

  38. Suzanne-- I think you've touched about something that's a possibility: a dumber population is easier to control when the logic that induces dissent is dissipated. I'll have to think on that idea a bit more since there may be another blog post warranted regarding that concept.



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