Are correct grammar and spelling relics of a happier, gentler time? It seems that with texting and online social media, grammar and spelling have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Everything is shortened, misspellings are acceptable (even celebrated), and no one seems to bother with sentences anymore.
I recently had a discussion with some teacher certification classmates. We were debating whether or not students’ grades should be based, in part, on their use of correct English. I argued that content was more important. For instance, if a student is taking a science or history course, it’s more important that they show their understanding of the topic, despite how they write (unless they’re misspelling “mitochondria” or “civil war”). A classmate argued that if he were doing the grading, he would grade the subject matter separately, and then decrease the grade by a minus “point” if the writing were terrible.
I’m not so sure. I think grading based on the correct usage of English puts some students at an unfair advantage. In my certification program, because it’s an online course, we are graded solely on what we write and submit to our professor. As a professional writer and editor, my submissions are easily “A” work, yet I don’t have to break a sweat. Other people may actually be working much, much harder. They may be taking an hour to write what only took me five minutes (I can also type fast). Is that fair? While I’m glad that I don’t have to work so hard, I realize that others my actually have a better understanding of the subject. But there’s no way for them to show it.
On the other hand, I find it disturbing that many bad writers don’t even know that they’re writing incorrectly. They use “their,” “there,” and “they’re” interchangeably, they misspell common phrases like “hear, hear,” and they couldn’t tell you the difference between an adjective and an adverb (and thus, they would use them incorrectly). It’s one thing to misspell on purpose for the sake of writing a text or a Tweet, but is it okay that so many have no clue?
What do you think? How important is grammar and spelling in a world where it doesn’t seem to matter?