But there are also real academic notes taken, most often in English texts. Usually this is to put confusing Shakespeare talk into plain modern English. Reading these notes has left me disturbed at the state of literacy in this country. Never mind how much they can't read, which cannot be gauged this way, but the way they write, and even worse the way they spell, is atrocious for students who are high school seniors. Has the system failed them, have they failed at it, or is it both? To illustrate, I will now list a number of misspelled words that I found in textbook notes. I assure you, these are all real. I wish they weren't. Can you guess what they meant?
Among these, the most painful I think is "flosify"; would you have guessed she meant "philosophy"? Or fallacy ("faillecy")? While I had resigned myself long ago to the fact that young people use "like" every other word as an expletive, I never thought I would see it spelt l-y-k.
In looking at this, I began to think that perhaps the way we've been teaching English literature has been all wrong. Generally, it is taught chronologically, beginning with Shakespeare or earlier Middle English, through the King James Bible and stodgy American writings of the 18th Century. Even the language of 60 years ago is vastly different to the young today. I propose that language is difficult for this generation to wrap its head around, and they need consistency. Can we expect them to use standardized spelling when they are reading works which feature non-standard spelling and usage? For my part, I think maybe these readings should be taught in REVERSE order. In that way, students could be eased into the more variant language, and hopefully have a stronger foundation. Can we really expect the attention deficient youth who don't use full sentences or words in general to read Chaucer and not be confused? I'm not sure if there is a solution, but I wonder if that might help make a difference.
The title of this post I took from a fascinating book of the same name which analyzes how the reading selections given children in grade school are far more simplistic than they were years ago. If you have any interest in the subject, I highly recommend seeking it out.