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English Dept. at Rutgers to Deemphasize Traditional Grammar in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

English Dept. at Rutgers to Deemphasize Traditional Grammar in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter

“way to contribute to the eradication of systemic inequities facing black, indigenous, and people of color”

Black Lives Matter, as a political movement and ideology, is now being woven into basic aspects of education, like the study of English. This is madness.

The College Fix reports:

Rutgers English Department to deemphasize traditional grammar ‘in solidarity with Black Lives Matter’

The English Department at Rutgers University recently announced a list of “anti-racist” directives and initiatives for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, including an effort to deemphasize traditional grammar rules.

The initiatives were spelled out by Rebecca Walkowitz, the English Department chair at Rutgers University, and sent to faculty, staff and students in an email, a copy of which was obtained by The College Fix.

Walkowitz sent the email on “Juneteenth,” which celebrates the commemoration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

Titled “Department actions in solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” the email states that the ongoing and future initiatives that the English Department has planned are a “way to contribute to the eradication of systemic inequities facing black, indigenous, and people of color.”

One of the initiatives is described as “incorporating ‘critical grammar’ into our pedagogy.”

It is listed as one of the efforts for Rutgers’ Graduate Writing Program, which “serves graduate students across the Rutgers community. The GWP’s mission is to support graduate students of all disciplines in their current and future writing goals, from coursework papers to scholarly articles and dissertations,” according to its website.

Under a so-called critical grammar pedagogy, “This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” the email states.


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Dantzig93101 | July 23, 2020 at 12:32 pm

A good first step would be to change the department’s name to “the Ebonics Department.” At least that would warn people what they were going to get.

That am a not good idea.

So the English department is no longer going to teach English. And how many tens of thousands of dollars are students expected to pay for this non-education?

The Friendly Grizzly | July 23, 2020 at 2:03 pm

I guess Thomas Sowell, Alan West, and others are doing it wrong?

Another academic idiot heard from–is there a never-ending supply of crazies at the universities?

Even more demeaning than Affirmative Action. Is the assertion here that blacks can’t even manage to speak English, or that they’re too dumb or too lazy to be teachable, or what? Were it any other population group, I’d expect a mob of them to burn Rugers down for such a gratuitous insult. But American blacks are so thoroughly shackled to the plantation that they’ll probably think that this is something wonderful. I’d prefer that they prove me wrong . . . but they won’t.

    Oversoul Of Dusk in reply to tom_swift. | July 23, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    You forgot to capitalize “black”.

    You be raciss!

    I was looking for a reason to be offended. Was I supposed to pay attention to the rest of your comment?

    (I hope it’s obvious I’m being sarcastic.)

    Defund the thought police! Start with Rutgers.

    randian in reply to tom_swift. | July 23, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    I think they’re making a stronger statement. It isn’t that blacks aren’t teachable, it’s that they shouldn’t have to be teachable. Being teachable implies there’s something wrong as they are, and that’s racist.

    GKD32 in reply to tom_swift. | July 24, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    For white people to assume that blacks are too dumb to take an English class, to me, is more serious than using the N-word. One is a word that can be used in multiple contexts but to say that someone can’t comprehend the rules of English grammer is dreaming regardless of how someone would spin it.

How incredibly bigoted! People from other countries/races are incapable of learning good
English? Why is it colleges always, ALWAYS, assign victimhood to non-whites?

“…. writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage…”

They are hardly disadvantaged if they are attending Rutgers. However, they might graduate disadvantaged should they major in English.

If I were to read a job application of one of these graduates and saw poor grammar, circular file cabinet.

When I was in college, many of the people who had the best grammar were Africans. Not the American blacks, but the foreign exchange students from Africa, who learned English grammar from the books, uncorrupted by television shows and idiots.

All of the exchange students understood the problem with “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should”. Very few of the white Americans could see (or understand) the grammatical error when challenged to. (I hate to think about how many LI readers know the error.)

And the black American students couldn’t even read the sentence, let alone find an error in the grammar.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Geologist. | July 23, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    Remember when Winston used that incorrect grammar in tv and print ads with the arguing smokers?

    “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”

    “No, Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should!”

    I think English teachers all over the country must have used that example.

If ya can’t write and speak in good English … you come off looking like an idiot. Going to a job interview? Good luck …

from the original source:

“On this day, 155 years ago, African Americans in Texas learned “that the system of slavery had been legally abolished.” ”

NO! A thousand times NO. The proclamation freed ONLY slaves in the rebel territory – because freeing slaves in the loyal Union would be an unconstitutional ‘taking’ – yes, slavery was legal in some Union places still.

These people can’t read and comprehend the Proclamation?

It is to weep.

    94Corvette in reply to OldSchool. | July 23, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Rutgers is in New Jersey, a state where slavery was legal until the 13th Amendment was ratified. Enough states ratified it so that slavery was illegal after Dec 15, 1865 but New Jersey did not ratify it until January 1866. Nothing like being on the right side of history, eh?

Under a so-called critical grammar pedagogy, “This approach challenges the familiar dogma that writing instruction should limit emphasis on grammar/sentence-level issues so as to not put students from multilingual, non-standard ‘academic’ English backgrounds at a disadvantage,” the email states.

Um, that says the opposite of what the College Fix writer (and Mike LaChance quoting him) say it says. Read it. The familiar dogma is to de-emphasize grammar altogether, because it disadvantages those who didn’t grow up with it. They will now incorporate into their pedagogy this new “critical grammar pedagogy” which challenges that dogma. “Instead, it encourages students to develop a critical awareness of the variety of choices available to them w/ regard to micro-level issues in order to empower them and equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents.” So rather than de-emphasize grammar, they will now teach it, presenting both the standard and common variants.

That sounds to me like a huge improvement. There is nothing wrong with using non-standard grammar, so long as you know what you’re doing. For that you have to know standard grammar, and choose not to use it. Not using it because you were never taught it is just ignorance.

    randian in reply to Milhouse. | July 24, 2020 at 2:53 am

    Milhouse, you aren’t reading this properly. Listen to what they’re saying: “equip them to push against biases based on ‘written’ accents”. What biases do these fools object to? The bias for standard written English. What might “push against” those biases mean? It means, clearly, to reject standard written English, and to publicly advocate for that rejection. Make no mistake, “a critical awareness of the variety of choices” will be specifically tailored so students know which choices are not acceptable e.g. standard written English. They won’t teach enough standard English to use it, but rather only enough to recognize it. Nobody should be using it, that would be internalizing white supremacy.

      Milhouse in reply to randian. | July 24, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      No, randian, you’re not just reading your own prejudices into it, you’re shoving them into a space they do not fit.

      The current policy is to de-emphasize standard grammar, because not everyone grew up using it correctly. The result is people who can’t write coherently in any variant of English, and are in no position to avoid giving the correct impression that they’re functionally illiterate.

      The new proposed policy is to teach grammar, so that students are equipped to push back against biases.

      There is nothing special about standard English. It is not better than any other variant. It’s simply the variant that won out in the standardization that was imposed by printing. Alternative dialects and vernaculars are just as valid and correct. But if you want to be literate in English you have to know the standard variant and how other variants differ from it.

      Like it or not, all other variants are measured against the standard. And if you don’t know the standard then you won’t be literate even in your native variant. Using Black English Vernacular should be a deliberate and informed choice, not what one uses because one knows nothing else.

        GKD32 in reply to Milhouse. | July 25, 2020 at 12:42 am

        The idea of de-emphasizing standard English works well in illegitimate SJ degrees; however, try getting an advanced degree somewhere reputable and you will by crucified by a professor for poor writing. Current SJ education is based on inductive reasoning and process philosophy, so you can make excuses for biases but if you can’t tell me what the predicate is in a sentence you need to turn your degree in. I was born in the rural south but that fact does not exempt me from using the English language as it was designed.

          DSHornet in reply to GKD32. | July 25, 2020 at 10:09 am

          Likewise, I was born in a Southern city many years ago. My formal education ended after thirteen mostly bored years but I remember the years in English classes. The Bride still has English textbooks from high school and college. Even at our age, we sometimes refer to them if a question comes up. The pages of our thesaurus are well worn.

          Standard English is standard for a reason. Not bothering to speak it with good pronunciation and enunciation is simply lazy and sloppy.

          There’s a reason a local weekly newspaper has me and others read at least two articles each for their podcast. It’s because we care. It’s not difficult. If I can do it, anyone can.

The faculty at Rutgers clearly believe that people with darker skin cannot learn as well as people with lighter skin.

The Friendly Grizzly | July 24, 2020 at 9:24 am

Cal State San Fernando will de-emphasize grammar to accommodate those who grew up talking in, like, valley-speak.

    We were enjoying a meal at a local restaurant a few years ago when we noticed the four college girls at an adjacent table using “like” and “you know several times in a sentence – every time. We started mumbling “like” and “you know” until they heard us. They got very quiet and soon left.

    Yes, I know we shouldn’t have ridiculed them, but they deserved it. I hope they now know how they sounded. I also hope they treated it as a learning experience.

    I wish the comments had an edit function.

Walker Evans | July 24, 2020 at 9:59 am

The Rutgers english (yes) Department could be abolished entirely and replaced by simply providing every student with a copy of my bestselling pamphlet “How to Talk Real Better and get a Lots Gooder Job!”

Albigensian | July 24, 2020 at 2:18 pm

White students speaking/writing black dialects of English? Holy cultural appropriation!

Or perhaps that’s the point: per Kafka, you’re guilty if you do and (now) guiltier if you don’t.