Saturday, February 19, 2005

817 Making sure the kids are alright

Not my topic, but that was the article title in the Wall Street Journal yesterday by Sarah Tilton. All about baby monitors. When did "alright" become a standard English word? I checked thinking it would give a little on this one, but even it listed "alright" as nonstandard English. When I was writing professionally, it was beyond nonstandard--it was circled and deleted.

One of the hot topics in letters to the editor yesterday was the "senior projects" article [that appeared Feb. 8, I believe]. I didn't see the articles, but it isn't "alright" with parents that kids who've squeeked through 11 grades have a sink or swim senior project. One wrote:

"If Johnny can't write clearly [in 12th grade] perhaps he needs to practice writing in grades K-11. . .read the works of great writers. . .practice annotation in middle school and elementary school. If Suzy can't do basic math, she may need to give up "anger management," and "family life" classes and do more math."

Forgive me for not reading the article, but when was this golden age of public school education? Certainly not in the 1920s for my parents, nor the 1950s for me. Nor the 80s when my children were in school (although standards were stiffer in their era than mine). As I've noted before here, if it weren't for the "Authors Card Game," I wouldn't have even recognized an American or British author of the 18th or 19th century when I was a teenager. If my parents hadn't paid for my piano lessons, I wouldn't be able to read music.

I had a senior project in high school; I think it was 1/4 of our American history grade. The class was taught by the coach, so only the athletes were safe. We knew about this ahead of time, so the summer of 1956 I followed the presidential election and clipped articles about Eisenhower and Stevenson and the conventions from Time and U.S. News and World Report. I know I got an A on the project, but I don't think that would pass muster as research in today's high schools--articles from two weekly news magazines.

The two high school courses I have never stopped using are Latin and typing. A dead language that is the foundation for our own and a clerical skill (can still type 60 wpm) for a machine that no one uses today--who'da thunk it.


Anvilcloud said...

It's always been all right with me to use alright. A much more sensible alternative for an ever changing language.

Norma said...

Canadian English! Eh?

murrayT said...

All right I give up, what's the matter with "alright"? You just need to chill out a little and you'll be alright. And another thing! Coach Worley nerver gave us athletes a break.