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Subject:Re: A disturbing trend? From:Sue Ellen Adkins <sea -at- NETCOM -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 19 Dec 1995 14:06:37 -0800
> This observation may not mean anything, but I was disturbed by
> it nonetheless. Mom H. is teaching a course on communications skills to
> a group of techwhirler wannabes (mild pejorative) who are taking
> the course to retain their unemployment insurance benefits. However,
> few of the students seem capable of writing beyond the (charitably)
> high school level. I have the nasty suspicion that the
> provincial government, which sponsors the course, doesn't seem to
> think that you need to know how to write to be a techwhirler. Hmmm...
I am in California and have seen the same thing. A local junior college offers
a Certificate in Technical Writing after the completion of four writing
courses. As a student in the last three courses, I've seen writing that my
eighth-grade English teacher wouldn't have accepted. Three of the most common
errors are incomplete sentences, incorrect tense (including invented words),
and noun/pronoun agreement problems.
Most students appear to be either unemployed and in a retraining program or
recent immigrants whose first language is not English. I'd guess that 25% have
a four-year degree. The friction between unemployed engineers and the wives of
programmers here on work visas rises to the surface when internships are
discussed. The unemployed want to be paid for internships; the wives, who are
not allowed to work, want unpaid internships. The number of unpaid internships
increase while the paid internships decrease.