Bab’l, Towr of

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

“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. [So long as they are not Asian.]

“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.””

Well, writing that in Ebonics would be an improvement. At least it would be less confusing about the dogma Rutgers no longer favors.

But, it’s not Ebonics I want to pick on here. Like any useful vernacular it affects the everyday language of most of the population. Words creep into accepted usage as the language naturally evolves. Still, there are standards for spelling, sentence structure and grammar that need not be hastily discarded by imposing Critical Theory memes.

It’s not that Rutgers is returning to rigorous grammar instruction, the dogma most of us would expect to inform University level English courses. They are abandoning grammar/sentence level instruction entirely.

An emphasis on grammar has a place in at least some University English courses, and certainly should be required for an English degree. Poetry, obviously, has different rules from prose, and Creative Writing 201 might encourage you to break rules. But to break them effectively you have to know what they are, and why they are. Entry to a University used to assume that incoming students did know.

But, in a rush to wokeness, Rutgers “”has moved past bias awareness and prevention and into a focus on “decolonization.””

Put more clearly, bias awareness has become insufficiently patronizing – we now need to let students know that whatever ideas of English they bring with them are as valid as any other ideas, because some students aren’t capable of learning. Because “white supremacy.”

The real irony is that the pedagogical change order was written by a Professor of English trying to impress his peers. If he wanted to help those who can’t grok English grammar he might have abandoned the critical theory box checking and used a comprehensible sentence structure. Instead, we have wordy, woke, Academiot jargon.

One might wonder how those downtrodden souls came to be in an elite college English program. Surely an inability to distinguish an adjective from an adverb should have funneled them into a Grievance Studies discipline (to maintain the fiction that English hasn’t become one), where nouns are regularly made into verbs.

Ignorance of commas: “Protest, shootings, and arson,” rather than “Protest shootings and arson,” might pass in an Applied Critical Theory class where there is only one possible meaning. But it could limit your chances of entering J-school at Columbia.

And, these days, not understanding pronoun disagreement could be fatal to your career.

Lest you think this sleight of hand racism is unique to Rutgers, let’s take a similar example from a Ball State conference:
Professor says grading, good grammar are examples of white supremacy

“White language supremacy, according to [Asao] Inoue, [associate dean of the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State] is “the condition in classrooms, schools, and society where rewards are given in determined ways to people who can most easily reach them, because those people have more access to the preferred and embodied white language practices, and part of that access is a structural assumption that what is reachable at a given moment for the normative, white, monolingual English user is reachable for all.””

Translated: Grades should be given in mysterious ways (though with extra credit for the oppressed) to those who have the most to learn – whether they learn or not. We must assume these people can’t learn another dialect.

A Masters (A word on the way out, and I don’t think we can use “He da man,” either.) in English is now a purely political credential.

So, now I’m wondering about what happens when the “pedagogy” meets the rubric. Starting with why someone would pay over $900 per credit hour, plus room and board, for a English degree from Rutgers?

The English language is the remit (noun) of Professors of English. They are choosing to trash it.