Re: snapshots

Steve Krause (skrause@BGNET.BGSU.EDU)
Mon, 8 Jan 1996 22:49:21 -0500

On Mon, 8 Jan 1996, John Oughton wrote (in part):

> It would be interesteing to compare a passel of entrance-level essays >
from 20 years ago and today to look at some of the specific things I >
suspect have changed -- a shift towards more phonetic spelling, a decline
> in cultural literacy around book culture in particular, and history and
> geography in general, a weaker command of grammar. Can I prove it? No.
> This could probably be done (I choose the passive tense carefully as
this is a project I am certainly not interesting in tackling anytime
soon), but I suspect your assumptions would be proven wrong. I had a
great student last year named Bob who was in his late 50s and who was
working his way slowly but surely through college (he worked full-time on
campus in a food services administration positon and had for years and
years). We were reading a selection from ED Hirsch's _Cultural Literacy,_
a text that I personally find dubious on all sorts of levels. Anyway,
when I asked the class about what they thought of Hirsch's positions, that
"everyone" once had to read Shakespeare, etc., etc., I found most of the
students to be nodding in agreement-- most of them accept for Bob, who was
old enough to be all of their fathers (and mine, for that matter). "I
never read any of that," Bob said, "I didn't know anyone who read that
stuff. Not in high school around here, and no one I knew went to
college." I can't tell you how much I valued Bob's "voice of authority"
in that class. He was someone from the supposedly "more educated" 50's
and early 60's, someone with direct experience with an era in where
Americas were all (supposedly) "culturally literate" who was willing to
point out how inaccurate the myth of the recent "golden" past is.

Steve Krause * Department of English * Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, OH * 43403 * (419) 372-8934 *
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