Two Bad Ideas from the Guardian

I'm not sure about this story on computers grading standardized tests, because I don't know about the sophistication of the software or the levels of the students. My gut is to agree with Tim Oates, director of Cambridge Assessment:"Some approaches look like technology in search of a test, rather than assessment designed to accurately report attainment."

We've started a rather successful rhet comp reading group this semester--our first two readings have dealt with the "image" of teaching grammar and "correctness." This push toward automated software will exacerbate the problem rhet/comp has explaining why teaching grammar is often antithetical to teaching writing. Grammar is a matter of a-contextual order and precision, writing is a matter of highly contextualized and nuanced choices and experiment. That's why the medieval trivium included bothgrammar and rhetoric. And medieval universities assumed that a student needed four years of both subjects (along with logic--hence the 3) to gain proficiency.

Mistake Two: Terence Kealy provides an attempt at humor gone horribly wrong. "Let male professors sexually fantasize about their female students." Yeeeesh. Might as well make a monkey joke. Oops, that's on us.


SpiritQuickens said...

It's good to see the medievals got something right. I had to scholastic theology and philosophy for a semester, and it was nightmarish. As a Christian, I can still confidently say that they gave us some pretty awful theologians.

I would like to study a lot more rhetoric, especially the classical stuff. Its relevance to the New Testament is interesting (particularly in the letter to the Hebrews).

Casey said...

When you say "grammar is one thing, but writing is another," I think you're creating a separation that wasn't there before...

Or, what I mean is, is it possible to study Rhetoric without doing any grammar? Isn't grammar very much a part of Rhetoric? You say that teaching grammar is often antithetical to teach writing, but I can't see how that's possible. It seems a necessary component to me.

Is learning the mechanics of a jump-shot antithetical to becoming a great basketball player?

Also: I hope you enjoy my post on Kealy, or at least the picture that accompanies it. It's a picture of one of my students; I snapped it with my camera phone the other day.