@Dance History and English may be too close. But I’ve *definitely* seen students assert that they didn’t think grammar or style mattered on, say, a lab report, or even research papers in relatively quantitative fields.
To be honest, though, my real complaint here is with folks from other departments who feel no compunction about running down students’ writing as “something they weren’t taught earlier”–as if they have no responsibility.
@Chuck and Mike: I don’t mind saying I hate *grading*, though I like reading student work. “Grading” has a bit of an assembly-line feel, especially when you have 100 students in a semester. But this week I’ve also gotten several papers from students just looking for more feedback, and I’m very happy to enagage with them. (*Next* week . . . after grades are due!)]]>
The sad fact is that lawyers don’t NEED to write like lawyers; Plain English is as legally binding as legalese.]]>
I’ve read papers where I thought “oh, very nice command of language, but totally not doing what this paper needs to do”, but I don’t complain about those students as “bad writers”, I complain about students who ignored the assignment.
Perhaps our fault as faculty may be that we make writing seem too idiosyncratic, and don’t emphasize certain common rules enough, so that students fail to realize they do transfer to other classes. But I’m skeptical of the notion that the rule “apostrophes should be used for possessives and contractions” suddenly vanishes when students are asked to write in History rather than English. Maybe the students never actually learned that rule, and just learned by rote and repetition that “Author’s Text” requires a little blob in the right place.
Now, when I see a complaint “oh this student is such a bad writer”, followed by a list of typos and grammatical errors that Word’s spellcheck would have caught, yeah, I think that prof has totally missed the point about what bad writing is.]]>
I would add that there is a new dimension to this as well: colleagues of mine will occasionally complain about writing, or at least grading, on Facebook and in other public venues. If we tell our students that we dislike reading their work, should we be surprised when they display similar enthusiasm when it comes to writing it?]]>