Thursday, May 12, 2005

Back from the Bluebook Mines

Whew. Just finished grading 65 papers and 110 or so essay exams, trying to do so in a non-arbitrary manner (it's harder than you'd think). Lucky for me, some of the best came last. Anyone who does this kind of work knows that a smart and lively essay at the end of finals week is like a spring rain in the desert. I had three such great essays in my Age of Augustus class. Ahhhh. Thank you, Jessica, John, and Redmond!

I noticed something that seemed kind of weird, though, when I was reading all those papers and exams. All the commas were gone. It's as if this generation of students has been zapped with a "comma-lyzer" (like Tommy Lee Jones's neuralyzer in MIB) that erased all consciousness of commas. They just don't use them.

I asked them about it when I handed papers back, and they told me that they either had received no instructions at all in high school about punctuation, or that they had been told to remove commas. Weird.

Some of them were shocked when I told them that I marked down poorly punctuated papers a half letter grade, as if I were being draconian about it. Who cares about punctuation? Hmmm. Don't they know that they might lose out on a job opportunity or a promotion if they can't punctuate?

No, I guess they don't.

1 comment:

Rustam Sheridan said...

I've found exactly the opposite in my students' papers: gross overusage of commas. Either way, they definitely aren't getting trained on how to use them properly. And a mark-down of 1/2 letter grade is pretty leniant, I think.