Teachers Should Not Accept Garbage

One of my high school students once handed me his “homework” on a crumpled piece of notebook paper. It looked like something he’d pulled out of the trash. I wouldn’t accept it.He was incredulous.

“You ought to be glad I turned something in!”

I told him that I didn’t accept garbage from my students.

The sad thing is that in some schools standards have fallen so low that teachers will accept any kind of work at all and count it towards a passing grade.

I suppose that in some schools teachers may even be expected to accept any kind of scribbled “work” to avoid confrontations with parents or administrators.

Children can be taught in the first grade to take pains with their handwriting. (Have you noticed how young people on TV hold their pencils?!)

Students of any age can be taught an efficient way to prepare a piece of paper for schoolwork. The name goes here. The date goes here. The months are spelled this way. The words line up with the red margin. Dots, not circles or hearts, go over the i. Some letters descend below the line, some ascend above it.

There is absolutely no excuse for secondary level students to turn in sloppy, misspelled, barely legible work. There’s no excuse for a second-grader to do it. 

It’s not just the English teacher who should insist on presentable writing and correct spelling. All teachers should be pointing out the misspelling of common words such as the names of the months or the words for numbers.

Why should a high school senior still be writing Wensday, Feberary, or fourty?

Any child capable of getting to the public school is capable of learning such basics in eight years at most.

If workmanlike habits are not being instilled at school, parents can teach them at home. 

It may seem like a minor thing, but preparing a paper before beginning the homework assignment is a very important step. Placing the name, date and headings focuses students’ attention, puts them into homework mode.

The secret weapon for teachers and parents alike is the ability to repeat the same instructions and complain about the same errors until the child gets it right. No matter how long it takes.

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