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Teacher, Proof-Read Thyself

Today, I received a communication from a professor. I won't name names, but any of my current three professors should probably heed this advice.

Teacher, proof-read your own writing!

At the request of faculty a number of years ago, I started occasionally teaching writing classes for pre-service teachers and graduate students. The professors complained about the lack of quality in their students' work. Mis-used punctuation, plural vs. possessive confusion, spelling errors, incorrect word usage, etc. were all trotted out as inexcusable errors on the part of educators. It didn't matter whether or not it was in an email or a term paper. Such things should never flow out of the keyboard of those responsible for educating the next generation. It was the fault of all that damn technology any way.

Imagine my vast amusement then, as I read syllabi, email, and even articles to be submitted for publication with multiple, common errors - all coming from professors who would castigate their students for an equivalent quality of work. None of these people are young. Marc Prensky would put them firmly in the digital immigrant category. They grew up reading the classics in print, so they cannot claim that they were misguided by the errors of the digital age and the denigration of quality that has supposedly resulted.

It may be true that students read less than they once did. Or it may not. But it is dead certain that students are exposed to poor writing by the very people who hold themselves up to be the standard of excellence, which can only be confusing at best.

Teacher, be a good example. Proof-read your work as you would a primer - because, quite frankly, it is.