Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or, How To Write Like the Average Undergraduate Male

by Jason Peters on December 14, 2010 · 122 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Culture, High & Low,Writers & Poets

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Collegeville

The first thing—and this for obvious reasons—is that you must prefer “within” to “in.” “Within” is longer and takes up more space on the page; plus it’s a word that makes you sound smarter because it makes you sound smarter. So you begin thus: “Within the poem …”

That’s auspicious. But you have to produce five hundred words of analysis on “The Road Not Taken,” though had you been listening in class you’d know that that’s the one poem on which you may not write your analysis—and this, again, for obvious reasons: the professor is not interested in reading yet another paper about how deciding to play football your senior year in high school “made all the difference.”

But you’re an average undergraduate male with the IQ of an ADD-riddled geranium, so you proceed.

But first, pull out your phone and check for messages.

“Poem” is good, but you can do better. You think the poem might also be a “text,” so you revise your phrase thus: “Within the text of the poem …”

Now that’s promising. You’re on a roll.

Poems differ from prose how? you ask. They are composed of lines. And usually they are shorter. So: “Within the lines and text of the poem, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books…”

See? This is going to be a breeze. Call up your buddies and tell them the drinking will start at 2:00, not 4:00.

But doesn’t “within” seem to limit the scope of analysis? It does. So: “Within and throughout the lines and text of the poem, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated …”

Nice touch at the end. The professor will be impressed that you can name an actual magazine. (Just be sure not to format the title properly.) So why not name a book too?

Pick up your phone and check for messages.

“Within and throughout the lines and text of the poem, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated and”—but you’re not sure you know any actual book titles. You look at your shelf. Empty Captain Morgan bottles—dead soldiers, dude!—and CDs.

Wait! High School English. Shakespeare. The ghost and the walking trees and the damned spot. Right! Got it.

“ … which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Mick Beth …”

[Later you won’t need to be curious about the remarks in the margins of your paper. Your professor will have circled “different” and written “usage” next to it. No problem. When you revise the paper, simply change “different” to “usage,” just as he suggested: “ … which is a kind of writing a lot usage than books and magazines.” That does flow better, don’t you think?]

But what about the lines and text of the poem? The poet is saying something. True enough: if it were you you’d just come out at say it like a normal person, but this is Robert Frost, who isn’t a normal person.

Pick up your phone and check for messages.

“Within and throughout the lines and text of the poem, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Mick Beth the poet uses … ” uses what? What do you think you should do next, check the glossary in the anthology? Of course not. You didn’t buy the books for this class. Google “poetry words.”

Not very helpful, as you’ll notice. But look more closely: Google wants you to take a look at “poetry words meanings.” See? You’re on a roll. You’re going to rock ‘n roll.

“Within and throughout the lines and text of the poem, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Mick Beth the poet uses”—“uses and employs!” Yes!—“imagery and iambic footings to …”

To what? Now, see, this is the hard part, so be careful. To say something about … I know: you wish this poem were about getting laid or wasted. You could say a thing or two! But it isn’t.

“Convey?”

Yes. Very good. “Convey or get across his meaning and thoughts on life and living in this life in which we live to his audience or you and I the readers of his poem, ‘The Road Not Taken.’” Or is it Taken’.”? Or Taken’”.? Best be safe: Taken.’.”.

State the title twice to up the word-count and hit Word Count. Might as well pick up your phone and check for messages while the word-processing program counts your torrent of words:

“Within and throughout the lines and text of the poem, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ by Robert Frost, which is a kind of writing a lot different than books and magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Mick Beth the poet uses imagery and iambic footings to convey his meaning and thoughts on life and living in this life in which we live to his audience or you and I the readers of his poem, ‘The Road Not Taken.’.”.

Seventy-seven! You haven’t written that many words since you filled out your application. Pick up your phone and check for messages.

“When first reading this poem, the woods are everywhere and it looks like the poem is going to be about the woods. Robert loved nature and loved to be out in it. Like in his other poem ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’ which is also about woods as can be seen from the title of the poem or poetic text ‘Stopping by Woods,’ woods being a part of nature and as was previously stated Robert Frost, the poet, loved nature and the natural in general.”

Eighty-seven! You’re going to nail this paper.

“But looking at the poem again and in a deeper or hidden meaning it can be found that Robert, or the poet, is really talking about choices, as is seen in his choice to take one path in the woods or nature instead of another. ‘Way leads on to way’ is a line that can be found within the body of the poem itself and means different things to different people but what I got out of it is that Robert is confused and needs to give 110% as a person dealing with some of life’s hardest issues, such as what ‘road’ or path in life to take.”

A hundred and four! Pull out the phone and tell them you’ll be there in fifteen minutes.

“I no this from first hand experience when my grandfather died and wasn’t there for me like he always was in the past tense of my life when it came time for me to decide to play football senior year or not. Like Robert I was unsure and needed advice and decided to play because that is what my grandfather would of wanted. We had a great season and the best homecoming winning with a last second touchdown for which I made and will always be remembered by me. So taking the ‘road not taken’ like Robert Frost in his poetic writing ‘The Road Not Taken’ made all the difference to me two.”

One thirteen. You’re almost there.

“In conclusion, Robert Frost was born in 1874, he was a poet who loved nature, as is seen within and throughout the lines and text of his poem ‘The Road Not Taken.’ He uses imagery and metaphors of life choices to choose his lifestyle in ‘The Road Not Taken’ and that ‘has made all the difference.’ So remember when you’re reading literature and literary works such as poems to read them a second time and look for the hidden meanings that can be found within them. Im glad I did!!!

Eighty-five for a total of … you’re short by a full thirty-four words.

So try the ending one more time:

“So remember when you’re reading literature and literary works such as poems to read them a second time and look for the hidden meanings that can be found within them, like in Mick Beth when the trees walk to the castle. The men are hiding behind them like “meanings” hiding within the text’s lines, which is also a metaphor for literary analyzation. Also Robert uses illiteration to show how being illiterate might mean you don’t get the most out of life or the job you want.”

You’ve done it. Over by twenty-one whole English words. A+ and Keystone Light, here you come.

But wait. You need a title. Here are some common options:

“Paper Assignment”
“Robert Frost”
“The Road Not Taken”
“Poetry Essay”
“The Value of Poetry”
“Analysis”
“What Poetry Means to Me”
“Poetry and Today’s Modern World”
“Roads”
“Life’s Roads”
“The Hidden Meaning”
“Choices”

(Be sure to use the quotations marks.)

Save, print, drink.

Note to the amorous undergraduate female reading this: When you scan the campus and realize what your choices are, I know it is tempting to open a vein and slide into a warm bath. But here’s the thing: you may be an average undergraduate female, but there are above-average undergraduate males out there who are nearly your equal. They are out there. It’s just that you outnumber them about 100 to 1. Still, that’s no reason to open a vein and slide into a warm bath.

(And happy 13th, E.M.P.)

{ 122 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Cecelia December 15, 2010 at 5:31 am

the female undergrad might not take that warm bath but what is to prevent the poor professor from such an end after correcting dozens of such literary delights?

History is my field – despite warning them that any paper which includes the phrase “throughout all of human history” will be automatically rejected ( since I have had few undergrads who actually know anything about even a decade or two of human history much less all of human history) I can count on virtually every paper including said phrase. I blame this all on high school English teachers who apparently persuade their students that 1) all papers must begin with a hook and 2) asserting knowledge of all of human history is just the most perfect “hook” there could be.

avatar Terrence December 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

That was pretty childish.

In my experience, the undergraduate males that you ridicule here genuinely do not have the writing and analytical skills necessary to write thoughtful, intelligent papers. Regardless of whether the fault lies with their own laziness, or their previous teachers, a broken school system, or some combination of these and other factors, these students were already behind when they got to college. The men who raised them probably did not have much interest in literary analysis. Most of them, particularly the athletes, know that you think of them as idiots, as philistines who only care about drinking and getting laid. They dread the humiliation of getting their papers handed back, swathed in your red markings, telling them what they already know: they can’t write papers.

Is it any wonder that these students try to finish their assignments in what they see as the quickest and most painless way possible, or that they do their bests to seem unconcerned about a value system in which they know they will be ranked among the lowest?

Congratulations: You are an academic and no doubt you’ve written some excellent papers. Chances are at some point someone encouraged you, made you feel valued because of your writing skills. These undergraduate male students are alienated from academia: they have never been able to write well and don’t think they will ever be able to, even if writing is a simple, common sense task from your perspective. By lampooning them here, you’re widening the divide and further alienating yourself from them, precluding meaningful reconciliation.

avatar Terrence December 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

That was pretty childish.

In my experience, the undergraduate males that you ridicule here genuinely do not have the writing and analytical skills necessary to write thoughtful, intelligent papers. Regardless of whether the fault lies with their own laziness, or their previous teachers, a broken school system, or some combination of these and other factors, these students were already behind when they got to college. The men who raised them probably did not have much interest in literary analysis. Most of them, particularly the athletes, know that you think of them as idiots, as philistines who only care about drinking and getting laid. They dread the humiliation of getting their papers handed back, swathed in your red markings, telling them what they already know: they can’t write papers.

Is it any wonder that these students try to finish their assignments in what they see as the quickest and most painless way possible, or that they do their bests to seem unconcerned about a value system in which they know they will be ranked among the lowest?

Congratulations: You are an academic and no doubt you’ve written some excellent papers. Chances are at some point someone encouraged you, made you feel valued because of your writing skills. These undergraduate male students are alienated from academia: they have never been able to write well and don’t think they will ever be able to, even if writing is a simple, common sense task from your perspective. By lampooning them here, you’re widening the divide and further alienating yourself from them, precluding meaningful reconciliation.

avatar Samuel December 15, 2010 at 10:24 am

Remember: “the angels can fly because they know how to take themselves lightly.”

I take it you’ve never had the pleasure of sitting down to grade student papers. We’re not talking about dis-enfranchised black youth who grew up in under-funded inner-city schools here. We’re talking about the spoiled, typically white, and wealthy kids who slide through America’s best funded high-schools, get into the best colleges, and ultimately wind up with the ‘best’ jobs running our banks and our nation because nothing is expected of them either. I have the inkling suspicion that the well-loved and well-subsidized jocks who have dealt their fair share of ridicule and harassment can take a mild parody of laziness. Whoever has failed them (and Peters hardly qualifies), they are fully capable human beings who are not exempt from their responsibility to be mature, thoughtful adults.

And I assure you the majority of them do not give a farthing to what their papers have on them when they’re returned.

avatar dave December 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm
avatar John Médaille December 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

This is clearly an example of work by a poor student, by which I mean a student with very little money. Better students use the internet to hire someone else to write it for them. (http://chronicle.com/article/Cheating-Goes-Global-as-Essay/32817/) These essay mills are good, which means we get more gooder prose.

And isn’t that what you wanted?

avatar Extollager December 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Too many “universities” (I have taught at one of them for 22 years) admit too many people who should not be in college. Let’s simplify that statement: there are too many “universities.”

My university president and vice president for academic affairs have prioritized enrollment. They talk numbers, numbers. Publicity releases about “headcount” being up are emphasized. Some of that “headcount” ends up in my classrooms. One can try to do what one can, but even an open-enrollment “university” was not really intended for such as some of these. They are here. One tries to help. Sometime during the semester one receives a notice that another student has withdrawn from the university. Others will remain, profoundly at odds with what a university should be.

avatar republican December 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Way too long of a read. think I’ll just read the posts…

avatar CMadden December 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm

You seem to have misunderstood or incorrectly read the article. Clearly implied in this satirical essay (that is satire, which is to say parody with the intent of ridicule, which is to say subject to indirect criticism, which is to say NOT direct) is the absence of focus in the hypothetical writer – he-or-she-whose-text-convos-are-interrupted-by-dumb-college-stuff. The student portrayed is not the same student with which you are taking issue. The student being criticized is not one who has sought extra help with grammar, has spent time trying, or has been deprived opportunity; it is the student who texts during class, complains about having to do something rather than nothing, and then has his parents contact the university to ask why these superfluously grueling academic standards are interfering with my child’s happy-fun time.

You and Mr. Peters are addressing two different students. You are worried about the student who lacks confidence because he has received dismal remarks in the past; Peters is dealing with the person who has never picked up his graded paper after submitting it; or, if he has, has “switched the words ‘different’ and ‘usage’”””” and turned it back in on his way to the nearest kegger (probably Keystone, quite possibly Busch Light).

This discussion does not even mention the growing trend—among certain “academics”—to consider grammar as ‘an expression of style’ instead of ‘a set of rules.’ Grammar impedes and limits what I’m trying to say, which is bad. Let’s use football as a symbolism/imagery/personification: instead of 1 & 10 we’ll change it to 1 & 5…much easier!!!!!

avatar Anamaria December 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Terrence- you’re right that it is not just laziness that is the problem, and even those that are lazy have not been taught to work hard, let alone how to work hard. One of my friend’s sons regularly asks me to help him with his papers, even though he has not read them over to edit or seemed to work on it in the first place. He certainly has the writing process Peters’ describes, plus youtube videos and “research” articles in different windows on the computer screen. Yes, someone needs to teach him to write, but his “writing process” is so ridiculous and depressing that at a certain point, all one can do is parody it and laugh. In other words, lighten up.

Samuel, Thanks for your notes. Just a quick observation from tutoring at the athletic department of a state school where football is god. The well-loved and well-subsized jocks really aren’t well-loved, and at least some of them know it. They are used for their athletic ability, and (almost) no one gives a shit about their education. Certainly not their coaches, who make them believe that they will all go to the NFL. No, they are not exempt from their responsibility to be mature, thoughtful adults, but this is a difficult task when no one has encouraged them in anyway to be mature, thoughtful adults (or even demonstrated what this means). A few have told me that I am the first person in their entire lives who has ever said that they are smart (and they are!). Many (though not all) do give a farthing to what their papers have on them when they’re returned, but they often don’t know what it means or how to do better (and don’t really believe that they can).

avatar Jason December 15, 2010 at 9:52 pm

It’s doubtful that in this day and age the comparative “than” would be used; more likely it was replaced with “then.”

avatar Anonymous December 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Why does the finished product read exactly as if it had been written by Sarah Palin?

avatar vegetablelollipop December 15, 2010 at 10:24 pm

cute, fun, chugs back rum
chiseled pecs, rock hard bum
cigarettes and bubblegum
wet huge hand, red fat thumb
dorm room like a big sheikhdom
always scratching that scrotum
problem, dumb, noisome, numb
oh, he’s the best kind of chum

avatar Anon December 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Aside from the stereotypically male subject matter, I don’t see how this is any different from the writing of the average undergraduate female. Were you attempting to defuse charges of sexism before anybody raised them?

avatar Seoghsigh December 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Today’s undergrad would not own CDs.

avatar Samuel December 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

My comment is somewhat misleading: it is obvious to anyone who has recently been involved in academia that this satire is not limited to male students who play sports in any sense; it is quite the norm across student demographics.

avatar pz December 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Literary analysis may not exhibit the same intrinsic value to others as it does to you. Do you expect students to put any effort into tasks that have little utility to them? Perhaps you should spend more time illustrating the usefulness of your assignments, instead of composing condescending missives mocking your students’ vegetable-like IQ.

avatar WRD December 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I’m an average male and recent graduate of the type of school parodied here. There’s a lot of truth to the criticism here. The equally lazy professors shouldn’t get a free pass, either. Writing is hard and teachers need to teach it.

But perhaps I’m taking this a little more seriously than I should.

avatar LM December 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Sigh. I’m pretty sure I received this paper last fall… That said, in my last two classes, I’ve had as many strong male writers as strong female writers; the gender disparity kicks in once you get out of “A” territory.

avatar Tim December 16, 2010 at 12:07 am

Second note to amorous undergraduate female: That above-average undergraduate male who is nearly your equal, yet who is outnumbered by females at 100 to 1? He’s probably interested in other amorous undergraduate males. Alas, your prison-gray dorm bathrooms only have gang shower stalls, so no warm bath for you this evening. (Really, kiddo, your folks are shelling out fifty grand a year for THIS? How lame is that?)

avatar PLH December 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

Love.

Here’s the problem: the meta-analysis of the trees in “Mick Beth” being “a metaphor for literary analyzation” is actually kinda clever.

Also, I think your student put in an impressive amount of time with this when he could have just gotten something off of 123papers dot com or somesuch. So shouldn’t you, you know, applaud him for concentrating on the assignment for more than 30 seconds.

avatar Matt Rodrigue December 16, 2010 at 1:47 am

This person has clearly been irritated by people who have fun for sometime now. I mean, the prose itself is rather boring. The comedic element is, ironically, about as sophisticated as that of, yeah you guessed it, an “average” (I’d add the equally problematic terms “white” and “North American”) undergraduate male. But the subtext abounds with themes including, but not limited to, frustration over repeated rejection, a closeted longing for young men, and the author’s own impotence vis-a-vis artistic expression. LOADED shit, right? To add further irony to this anemic piece, the author alludes to the current generation’s collective ADD (MORE generalizations, please!), while choosing to publish said piece on the Internet– the PRIME symbol of ADD (aside from today’s casually distributed [and seemingly loosely regulated] prescription drugs). Even FURTHER, I’ll bet this little piece of misanthropic gold was created while other, more serious writing assignments fell, just momentarily, by the wayside. Hey guys and gals, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE making fun of people (I mean, let’s face it, I’m doing it right now!). However, this dude’s main point is that mediocre, college-aged Americans represent this country’s flaws. A big fat B for BORING! My advice: be funnier, smarter, and more in tune with your country’s social and cultural manifestations. (For example, ponder the notion that the American college system sucks and costs way too much, and that the school system leading up to college is equally boring, rife with pedagogical problems, and, again, too expensive!

avatar Joe December 16, 2010 at 2:05 am

This is awfully condescending but sort of funny at the same time. One wonders if the teacher is perhaps at fault as well? Or any number of teachers and other authority figures who have failed to impress any knowledge on your Average Undergraduate Male. I wonder if we could discern an answer within some usage studies…

avatar Cynthia Germain Bazinet December 16, 2010 at 2:14 am

OMG! My prof day just flshed b4 me! Tyler! Wake up!

Seriously, can’t wait to share with colleagues tomorrow. Bravo!

avatar Caitlin December 16, 2010 at 2:23 am

OMG, boys rly r soooooo dumb. No, but seriously, they mostly are. Defensive, too. Girls are more likely to be competent writers because more of us read books as kids.

avatar Jim Michael December 16, 2010 at 2:33 am

Advising Dr. Peters to “be funnier” immediately after you write “A big fat B for BORING” is either very clever or very sad. Wonderful use of the thesaurus, though, I think you’re post only reinforces the point.

avatar Matt Rodrigue December 16, 2010 at 3:06 am

Well, sad people often ask for more comedy, you know? And besides, just because I have multiple degrees doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, does it? And you so cleverly added Mr. Peters’ credentials there — nice work. You’re right, social commentary WITH comedy is total trash — Bourdieu would back you up on that, too. Lastly, just because someone uses big words for, you know, syntactically equivalent words doesn’t mean they’re using a Thesaur-o-saurus Rex. Some of us possess naturally large lexicons. But here you go again, Jim “With Two First Names” Michael: delineating the imagined differences between comedy and social commentary! I’ll be right back, I just have to hit my bong while watching uber-ironic TV shows on Youtube, listening to super-spastic post-modern noisecore from my boys in The Locust, and scanning the Wikipedia entry for “Cuban Revolution” (I need some good background info for the personal statements I’m currently writing for PhD programs). Somebody’s gonna be a DR. Matthew Rodrigue soooon! Also, really quick, I found Mr. Peters’ argument and choice of topic to be boring, NOT just his sheer inability to make me laugh. Woops, thought you would have excavated that from my TEXT, but you were probably too preoccupied. : )

avatar Matt Rodrigue December 16, 2010 at 3:23 am

By the way, Jimmy, you should scroll down and read Terrence’s reply. Less funny than my own post (to be sure), but far more effective in slaying Peters’ bullshit argument. Peters is the time of person who looks down on others rather than trying to find an effective way to work with them (to put it more simply for you: the geeks in high school hated the jocks as much as the jocks hated them, but they ridiculed them in different ways [I would know, I was fortunate enough to be friends with members of both cliques]). Speaking again of thoughtless prose, Peters’ piece leaves out so much important information that I am actually afraid that people like him are awarded PhDs. Where I come from his essay is known simply as shoddy work (let the red ink flow like the open veins of Latin America! [you like that LITERARY reference?]). And maybe Peters’ topic is too big to be covered in this forum. Had someone made that argument I would have agreed. And then I would have told Peters’ to stop effing around on the Internet and engage in some real analysis.

avatar Matt Rodrigue December 16, 2010 at 3:24 am

Spot on.

avatar Jim December 16, 2010 at 4:59 am

As Ross Perot would say: “High-sterical”

I will agree that today’s students don’t have CDs. They might have some thumb drives laying around.

Also, they aren’t checking for “messages” they are checking for “texts.” The frequency they check for them is correct though.

avatar Metternich December 16, 2010 at 6:52 am

Yes, poor Youth. Frankly I don’t know how Youth will manage what with all this blistering criticism. Youth has been looking for a job lately, so Youth really doesn’t need this.
Explanatory note if, as I suspect, you don’t understand irony: The author is not criticizing “youth” – he is criticizing facile mediocrity. You’re welcome.

avatar MorsDei December 16, 2010 at 6:59 am

Except for the fact that a frighteningly high number of today’s youth actually are abysmal writers. And I’m not old either. I’m a 20 year old college student, and I experience immeasurable misery from reading the writing of most of my peers.

People who write like the joke example do not belong in college. Maybe it’s not entirely their fault, maybe they’ve been failed by the education system or by lazy parents, or by something else. But the average writing of my generation is truly embarrassing.

avatar Spencer December 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

Did you type like a “tween” to underscore your implied sarcasm? You will forgive me, but your “text comment” destroyed what little credibility you had for representing the female populace of “competent” writers.

avatar Brian December 16, 2010 at 8:33 am

As a male undergraduate engineering major at a state university with recent experience in reading and editing the papers of a sizable sample of my peers, I feel as though I can say with some confidence that almost every assertion you have made in your piece is objectively false.

avatar Shfwilf December 16, 2010 at 9:02 am

Thats pretty funny, but Icerainly found the sexist commentary at the end offensive and gratuitous.

avatar Samuel December 16, 2010 at 9:19 am

I await the day (which I fear is not far off) that to suggest that a man has a penis and a girl does not, is deemed sexist. A female having a vigina likewise.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Then you’re over-confident. This is certainly how many, many high school seniors write, and nothing magically changes when they matriculate to college.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

One wonders if the teacher is perhaps at fault as well?

No, one really doesn’t.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Where I come from his essay is known simply as shoddy work

Sure, sure.

(It’s not an “essay”, moron, it’s a humor column. Fair do’s if you don’t think it’s funny.)

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

You can’t teach people who don’t read, and refuse to read, how to write.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm

You mean effort like “reading the assignment”?

It’s called a college education, and it historically has included such useless things as literary analysis. Presumably the author isn’t teaching at Devry.

avatar Gene Callahan December 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Yeah, Brain, and just what “assertions” were put forward in this piece?

avatar Gene Callahan December 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm

“Peters is the type of person who looks down on others rather than trying to find an effective way to work with them,” I declare, as I look down on Peters, rather than working with him!

avatar Nick Danger December 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Yes, Matt, bill was spot on: Terrence is an idiot.

avatar Leila December 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm

As an English Composition teacher, I can assure you that this essay is an alarmingly accurate representation of college writing.

avatar WmOh December 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

You not funny.

avatar RM December 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I agree with Brian. The essay clearly needs an introduction. Perhaps something like: “From the beginning of time, poets have inserted metaphors within and throughout their lines of poetry.”

avatar Teacher726 December 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm

In every job, no matter what it is, there are tasks that feel useless, yet people who have a good work ethic and sense of responsibility completely them to the best of their abilities every day. It is a sad symptom of our society– adults and youth alike– that many people think they should only have to do what they personally feel is worthwhile and not what their teacher/boss/superior has assigned for them to do. I mean, obviously, even a sixth grade student knows more than his/her teacher about what will be useful or beneficial, right?

avatar Brian December 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

The assertions made that:

The average male undergrad has the IQ of a flower with a learning disability
The average male undergrad drinks on a regular basis
The average male undergrad cannot name the title of a single book
The average female undergrad is intellectually superior to 99% of male undergrads

Are demonstrably false.

avatar Humbug December 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Brian in fairness he was talking about a paper for an English class not a class for a useful major like engineering or any of the sciences. I’m all for taking English Lit courses, I took a few, but after discussing the meaning of the “journey” for 45 minutes and seeing english major’s minds at work I’m not shocked at the analysis.

avatar Motmaitre December 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Nice and very funny. But that is the reason for the sexist last paragraph? Why is it funny to say that men are not the equal of women, but unacceptable to say the obverse?

avatar Jdsmith December 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I’m pretty sure that you are not “all for taking English Lit courses.”

avatar Jdsmith December 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

That “recent experience in reading and editing the papers of a sizable sample of my peers” hasn’t done much for the ol’ irony detector, has it?

This is, in fact, a pretty sweet* illustration of how the different disciplines read: some for “demonstrably true” information, others for the ludic possibilities of language.

And what’s cool** is that neither is right and both are right.

* Not actually a reference to the taste of sweetness, Brian.

** Not actually a reference to the sensation of coolness, Brian.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

By lampooning them here, you’re widening the divide and further alienating yourself from them, precluding meaningful reconciliation.

He already explained to you that they’re illiterate Terrence. They’re not reading his blog.

avatar Whitney Kurtz-Ogilvie December 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Loved it–but I have to say, as a college writing instructor going on 12 years, I’ve seen a lot worse.

avatar Brian December 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

You have successfully displayed that you do not understand what the actual definition of irony is.

Hint: It isn’t the same thing as sarcasm.

The ludic possibilities of language are all well and good, but there are far better applications than making sweeping derogatory generalizations based on nonexistent evidence.

avatar DyingByDegrees December 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I suspect having to endure Herr Peter’s poetry course would tempt me into opening an artery (carotid no less) and slipping into that warm bath. Drinking heavily probably is the only salve to dull the pain…

avatar TR December 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Why does most Jason Peters “humor” have such a repellent edge? Take a look, and you’ll discover the vast majority of his FPR articles are just sour tirades dressed up as jokes.

avatar pz December 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

If this piece is truly representative of his attitude then its surprising he’s teaching at all.

avatar pz December 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Yes, but being a student isn’t a job. The fact that the sixth grader doesn’t know better than the teacher is exactly why they have to be shown the usefulness of what they’re learning. Or maybe the painful truth is that what they’re learning is, in fact, useless.

avatar Jordan Smith December 16, 2010 at 8:10 pm

This comment dialogue confirms it: FACEBOOK WILL BE THE DEATH OF INTELLIGENT COMMENTARY ON FPR. Someone, hurry revert to the old comment format, and ditch the connection to Facebook. Fast.

The comments below prove Peter’s point more than the article spawning them.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I think I have yet to meet either a high school teacher or college prof, and I’ve met tons, who didn’t feel free to mock their mock-worthy students. Get out more.

avatar Alethea December 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I am chuckling with much more understanding than I had half a year ago. :-) Currently I am teaching a handful of homeschooled high school students in a co-op situation, working with them fairly closely to improve their style as they write about European history. Ah, the fluff words and tangled phrases and misunderstood substitutions of my editing remarks! I am glad that someone else finds the whole thing funny.

avatar Shannon Wright December 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I’m pretty sure you’re the person the author is making fun of, Humbug, since despite your English classes you seem unable to distinguish between the possessive and the plural. (Hint: majors, not major’s.)

avatar pz December 16, 2010 at 9:22 pm

You’re right, he’s free to mock whoever he wants. And I’m free to call him incompetent and about as funny as Carlos Mencia.

avatar Eric December 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I think that either the author is trying to buff his P.C. credentials by showing that he ( although a male by no fault of his own) is *soooo* into empowering women, or perhaps he sees all the attractive “average undergraduate females” on a college campus and can’t stand the fact that they are hooking up with the knuckle-dragging “average undergraduate males” instead of the somewhat nerdy “above-average undergraduate males” like him (or like he was when he was an undergraduate).

I can relate. I was one of those “above-average undergraduate males” myself. But this article is spot-on and hilarious.

avatar Anonymous December 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm

You said it was surprising he’s still teaching. It isn’t.

avatar kill your idol December 16, 2010 at 11:48 pm

The only irony here is that this article is itself “facile mediocrity”. The piece is embittered and aimless, much like your internet persona. I can see why someone who signs off with “you’re welcome” would appreciate some ivory tower kvetching, however. Author should get back to office hours if he really wants to stem this tide.

avatar Mborok December 17, 2010 at 12:59 am

Acutally, it’s both possessive and plural, so – english majors’ minds at work. Regardless, in cases like this one the charitable thing is to assume a typo.

avatar Armand P. Deshler December 17, 2010 at 1:31 am

“I experience immeasurable misery from reading the writing of most of my peers.”

Oh, well, aren’t YOU high minded! Looks like a young college male is throwing in some filler words of his own.

avatar Grace December 17, 2010 at 2:06 am

As an undergraduate female, I find this hilarious. It also confirms why female undergraduate students now outnumber male undergraduate students.

avatar El December 17, 2010 at 3:35 am

My friends in academia tell me that on average, they get one plagiarist per batch of essays. Apparently these dear students will sometimes put in an extraordinary amount of time in stitching together paragraphs from different essays on the internet, which means that the poor sod marking the essay has to spend a very long time finding the sources in order to prove that it was plagiarised. They reckon that the essay could probably have been written in less time than it took to cobble together bits from other people’s work (including, on occasion, stolen material that was written by the person marking the essay. And they will still plead innocence when charged with plagiarism. Amazing).

avatar Anonymous December 17, 2010 at 3:45 am

In defense of the writers… most of them have no desire to be in that class in the first place, or to read any Robert Frost. Very few people ever did. Such things are for the academic (gasp!) elite.

I taught at a pretty big state university. It was a pretty good school with bright kids. The vast, vast majority of them were there for what they hoped would be career training. And that’s why most of their parents sent them there.

It is beyond stupid that we require the future insurance salesmen of America to get a four-year formal education. Some future insurance salesmen probably want to learn such things. Most don’t.

I know. Then they shouldn’t major in something like English. But… English is a pretty easy major compared to physics. So we get the students we deserve. It’s a Ponzi scheme, and in large measure I wasn’t the victim. My students were. So I tried not to complain.

avatar Ken Reibel December 17, 2010 at 3:53 am

I taught Print Communications one semester, and I asked the class on what career they saw for themselves. Of the 30 students, 26 answered “public relations”. When I asked why PR, the overwhelming response was “because I don’t like to write.” Of course, PR is 90% writing.

avatar MSh December 17, 2010 at 4:12 am

You should be ashamed. How do you expect insurance salesmen to WRITE A CONTRACT without WRITING CLASSES? Critical thinking comes out of reading and writing, too. English is hardly a fallback major if it’s taught right. If you were a bad English teacher, that’s your problem, not the discipline’s.

avatar MSh December 17, 2010 at 4:18 am

turnitin.com or safeassign, baby.

avatar msh December 17, 2010 at 4:18 am

Ha, if you get your PhD, you will understand all too soon the abysmal writing of students – whether you’re in the humanities or not. And as their writing skills go down, so do their critical thinking, logic, organization, research, and other essential skills.

avatar Msh December 17, 2010 at 4:21 am

No, being a student IS a job or at least an apprenticeship, once you get to college. It’s testing on whether they have the maturity to survive in the job world and kicking them in the pants if they don’t. The best students are professional and do treat school as a job and an opportunity (and they also party and have lives; they manage to balance it all).

avatar Wiggy December 17, 2010 at 4:30 am

Yes, because clearly any major that does not involve objective, right/wrong answers is not “useful.” Except that subjective material like is taught in Literature classes opens students’ minds outside their own little bubble. It teaches critical thinking, how to question the world around them and form their own opinion instead of blindly accepting what those in power tell them. What a gullible society we would have without English classes. There is a great amount of usefulness is both Liberal Arts and the Sciences and we need both in our world. I of all people should know….I spent half of my college years as a ChemE major before deciding it wasn’t wear my heart lay and I am now an English teacher.

avatar ta4eva December 17, 2010 at 4:35 am

Oh god, the old “critical thinking” canard! Uuggghgghggh.

avatar Anonymous December 17, 2010 at 4:36 am

Most people read Robert Frost in lit classes. Not writing classes. But I guess there is some cross-over.

As for being ashamed, I have to admit that I am not. While I was teaching comp, I regularly made the case that what most of my students actually needed was less focus on critical thinking and more focus on RULES. When to use a semicolon, how to form a sentence, when to break the rules, etc. The best option would be to have a fearsome nun in the back of the room punishing people when they make mistakes.

In general, the idea in our department was to move “beyond the five paragraph essay.” But for the vast majority of professionals, the basic five parageaph essay is exactly what they need to master. In fact, alsmost every paper students write in college will be a five paragraph essay, extended out to 10 or 20 pages. What to write a letter to the editor? odd are, you need to write a five-paragraph essay.

Why anyone would think that society will benefit if we force everyone, regardless of inclnation, to sit around thinking about poets is beyond me. You can learn critical thinking on the football field, in a casino, washing dishes in the cafeteria, in the service, in a plumbers apprentice program, etc.

If you think the material in a modern lit class will help someone write an insurance contract, I don’t think you have been in a classroom in a while.

Seriously. It’s a Ponzi scheme.

avatar Jdsmith December 17, 2010 at 4:53 am

But what are we to do about your habitual failure to capitalize “English”? Had you done so once, we might have “assumed a typo.” Twice? I think not.

avatar Jdsmith December 17, 2010 at 5:01 am

Explain how I demonstrated that I do not know irony and that you, in fact, do. Please do, engineering undergraduate.

My earlier contention is that you are a unilateral reader, incapable of the double-mindedness that literary reading, even of so mundane a piece as this, requires.

I do not think it is at all problematic that you prefer to write like a scientist rather than an artist. But you should hesitate before condemning writers who choose the other, equally valid, path.

Extra points if you can tell me why “sweeping . . . generalizations” is both cliched and redundant.

avatar Really? December 17, 2010 at 6:54 am

You taught comp, and yet include the incorrectly punctuated sentence: “What to write a letter to the editor? odd are…” Really? “What to write a letter”, or perhaps that should be “want to write a letter. odds are…” No wonder you didn’t care–it’s hard to teach something you haven’t mastered yourself.

avatar Anonymous December 17, 2010 at 7:45 am

“Throughout all of human history, people have been alive on the planet Earth.”

avatar Anonymous December 17, 2010 at 10:56 am

Yep. Comp. As for typos in blog comments, I plead guilty, so you have that. Although it’s not punctuated incorrectly. There are words spelled incorrectly. Which means I need a nun with a ruler. Not a hug.

But by all means, buy yourself an insurance agency. When you encounter an employee who has trouble with contracts, send him to the local community college for some lit classes. See if it improves his work. I suspect it won’t.

avatar Kalibhakta December 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

….which is precisely why rat wangers fear and despise English and similar academic pursuits.

avatar WmOh December 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm

“Why anyone would think that society will benefit if we force everyone, regardless of inclnation, to sit around thinking about poets is beyond me.”

Certainly society shouldn’t force everyone into college; people who don’t want to think about poets SHOULDN’T GO. There are plenty of adequate vocational schools and community colleges for those people interested in career training, from which they will graduate with marketable skills and far less debt than your future insurance salesman.

Besides, the really lazy undergraduate isn’t in the college of arts at all- he’s a business major.

avatar Sprof88 December 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I stopped reading at “with which you are taking issue,” since a student is a person and therefore would be referred to as “with whom you take issue.”

Just enjoy the joke, please. I am an English professor and thought this was hilarious. Yet, amazingly, I have some football players who write pretty well and some young women who do not. Just laugh, folks. Please?

avatar Evjustin December 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I would agree that comp 101 classes have degraded somewhat into personal agenda platforms for many comp teachers—assignning readings which suit their political bent. I know many teachers who have pawned off the actual tutorial of writing to the writing labs, and then focus on debating the merits of a particular aspect of the reading, hoping that the student will pick up better writing skills in that manner. Perhaps a split should be created: Comp 101-Fundamentals of Grammar and Organization and Comp 101A-Critical Thinking in Writing.

avatar KMonty December 17, 2010 at 4:15 pm

My favorite: “Throughout human history, men and women have never been thought of as contemporaries.” I circled in on his paper, speech draft, and then almost lost it in class when he began his speech with it…

avatar David Conrad December 17, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Defuse charges of sexism by ending on a thoroughly sexist note?

avatar David Conrad December 17, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Mr. Peters, if you ever feel like taking a warm bath, remember: down, not across.

avatar Jordsmith December 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Nota Bene on Art & Letters.

No wonder there have been so many comments!

avatar Dan Nugent December 17, 2010 at 7:55 pm

The author, in choosing to make his article a gendered attack, has opened himself up to critical responses decrying the misandrist nature of his thought process. Would that it had been framed solely in terms of the collegiate nature of his subject, there would certainly be more agreement as to the veracity of his critique (notwithstanding those who feel that English “lit” is of a low value a priori or those with a low disposition towards current institutional education).

I myself can only add that I feel the only real condemnation (not critique, mind you) that can be levied against someone’s efforts, good or bad, is their concern for their work. The portrait presented obviously shows a student with no care for the assignment. However, a perhaps more subtle scenario would show a student yielding a similar result with more focused efforts. I don’t think such a change would stretch the believability of the piece in any way.

avatar Peter Paul Fuchs December 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Isn’t this just side-stepping the real issue?? That is, whether there are any ideas likely to be put across of any interest. Isn’t the issue really boredom? The real background for any literary or aesthetic consideration is this: 95% of what people say or produce is boring and self-serving. And that includes the tendency to pretentious and prolix prose. You’ve got to be pretty clever to stay out of that percentage. But realistically one must acknowledge that it is hard to do. Anyways, pretense is the real coin of our realm, and pretending one does not in any way deal in that currency is itself pretentious.

avatar Samuel December 17, 2010 at 10:50 pm

By God, what does this say about AL Daily? Is it equally a curse upon all it touches?

avatar Dan December 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Welcome guests to FPR! Please know that if you are interested in place, limits, or liberty, but lack the proper level of intelligence or education (which apparently you cannot rely on educators for), you will be condescended to by teachers and preachers of various sorts. This is not a welcoming environment for entry-level lovers of all things local! You have been warned!

avatar Peter Paul Fuchs December 18, 2010 at 12:10 am

Dan’s comment brings to mind the great Latin American aphorism, which speaks to issues of high-level locality (surely not “entry level”!!) , and fits his warning nicely too: “Sali de Guatemala, para meterme in Guatapeor.” Indeed, one thinks that some of the more pretentious pinings for for place might be Guatapeor, but maybe not…..quien Sabe??

avatar Peter Paul Fuchs December 18, 2010 at 12:10 am

Dan’s comment brings to mind the great Latin American aphorism, which speaks to issues of high-level locality (surely not “entry level”!!) , and fits his warning nicely too: “Sali de Guatemala, para meterme in Guatapeor.” Indeed, one thinks that some of the more pretentious pinings for for place might be Guatapeor, but maybe not…..quien Sabe??

avatar Peter Paul Fuchs December 18, 2010 at 12:10 am

Dan’s comment brings to mind the great Latin American aphorism, which speaks to issues of high-level locality (surely not “entry level”!!) , and fits his warning nicely too: “Sali de Guatemala, para meterme in Guatapeor.” Indeed, one thinks that some of the more pretentious pinings for for place might be Guatapeor, but maybe not…..quien Sabe??

avatar D.W. Sabin December 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I don’t get it, like, :) ehhh, butanderI but , uhhhh. Like. You know. Whatever.

Victims of the World Unite

Peters is a Hoser.

By the looks of it, we don’t suffer from gender confusion as much as we might suffer from gender effusion.

avatar Chris Gayler December 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Gayler 1

Chris Gayler

Iris Schlabach

English Class

18 December 2010

“My Analysis Of The Assigned Reading”

Within the words sentences and paragraphs of the assigned

reading “Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or, How To Write Like the

Average Undergraduate Male”[1] by Bar Jester whose name is also

Jason Peters, the author Jester/Peters teaches how to

write like an average undergraduate male. Its is a guide or tutorial

for how undergraduate males, like me, can write a paper for a

literature class, like your’s. It’s very good and informative, and

useful. Finally, and in conclusion; the essay written by the author

gives an example or instance of a paper that can be written about

a poem called “The Road Not Taken”[2] by the poet Robert Frost.

As Robert Frost once said: “Poetry is a way of taking life by the

throat.”.[3] The author of the assigned reading “Bar Jester’s Writing

Gayler 2

Seminar; or, How To Write Like the Average Undergraduate Male”

by Bar Jester[4] takes English class literature analysis assignment

writing “by the throat”, writing at one point in his writing, or
article,

“You’re almost there.”![5] This conveys declarative statement “You’re

almost there.” means that writing an English class literature analysis

can be fun and easy–all one needs too know is how to do it. First,

the author of the work, or essay, assigned suggests that bigger

words like “within” make you sound smarter, then littler words like

“in”[6]. This is also the case with words like “purchase” instead of

“by” or “upon” instead of “on” or “endeavor” instead of “tasks”. This

is great advice on how to sound more precocious. These bigger

words that mean the same thing as littler words are called

“synonyms” by “Roget’s Thesaurus”, by Mr. Roget’s[7].

The assigned writing “Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or, How To

Write Like the Average Undergraduate Male” teaches, or elucidates,

general techniques and strategies for writing English class writing,

but writing is’nt limited to English classes–the advice in Bar

Jester’s essay or article can be used in other areas or facets of

Gayler 3

one’s life. For instance, the advice in the assigned reading can also

be used to papers for a history class, but instead of writing about

poetry, like Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” you would be

writing about books; like “American History: A Survey of Country and

People Third Edition” by Edward Manning[8], which is the textbook,

for my American history class. Also writing can make a person a

better person, as is made clear in the book.

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United

States of America once said in a book titled “American History: A

Survey of Country and People Third Edition” by Edward Manning:

“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”.[9] While “be[ing] brief” maybe good

for politicians and presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it is

clearly not good or desirable in an essay written for an English class,

Gayler 4

or for that matter a history class or any other class. Clearly and

indisputably stated in “Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or, How To Write

Like the Average Undergraduate Male” by Bar Jester the more words

you write; as opposed to the less words you write, the smarter, and

more intelligent one sounds and appears. It will also help you attain

the mandatory required word count or page count, which is very

important for a writing assignment essay. For instance, this paper is

supposed to be seven (7) pages, which it is.

If Bar Jester gets anything wrong in his prose essay “Bar Jester’s

Writing Seminar; or, How To Write Like the Average Undergraduate

Male” by Bar Jester it is to limit it’s advise to males only–girls
can use

the advise also. According to “Women’s Studies: a Survey of Culture

Gayler 5

and Women Second Edition”[10] by Edward Manning, the textbook

used for my Women’s Study’s class this essay is not “gender-neutral”,

which according to ibid is “sexist”, or what the French call

“chauvinism”; which in English means “sexist”. One solution to this

problem would be to write a nother prose essay teaching girls how to

write like average undergraduate girls. Instead of talking about a

male poet like Robert Frost, the girl essay could talk about stuff like

ponies, flowers, dolls, and other stuff that girls like. That would be

less “chauvinism”.

In conclusion and summary “Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or,

How To Write Like the Average Undergraduate Male” is a useful and

“chauvinism” tutorial on how to write good. I learned alot, which is

the whole point of education and specifically this class of your’s that

I am taking. The end.

Gayler 6

Work’s Cited

[1] Bar Jester’s “Bar Jester’s Writing Seminar; or, How To Write Like

the Average Undergraduate Male”[1]” by Bar Jester, AKA “Jason

Peters”

[2] “The Road Not Taken”, a poem by Robert Frost (you can find it on

Google.)

[3] Wikipedia’s article titled “Robert Frost”, written by Julian Assange

[4] This is the same as the first cited work. See [1].

[5] This quote is near the end of the first cited work. See [1], but
near

the end.

[7] “Roget’s Thesurus” by Mr. Roget’s, which you can find in the

reference section of the library near the Kappa Delta Kappa.

[8] “American History: A Survey of Country and People Third Edition”

by Edward Manning, which you can find used at the “Corner

College Bookstore”

[9] Ibid the eighth cited work [8].

[10] “Women’s Studies: a Survey of Culture and Women Second

Edition” by Edward Manning, also available at the ibid books store

Gayler 7

cited above in the eighth citation [8].

avatar Jordan Smith December 18, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I would say that AL Daily is like a tourist bus. (Not as bad as Facebook.) It dumps loads of tourists on the Porch who have no vested interest in the place, and will likely never return again. I would rather FPR grow slowly and organically, and that its soil would nourish and give all those that call it “home” a particular flavour. If weeds come and find the soil toxic to its roots and seeds, that is a good thing. (Take note Dan.)

avatar CMadden December 20, 2010 at 4:31 am

Indeed, whom! Touche.

avatar George December 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

But if—- wait. I have to check for messages

avatar George December 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

Sorry. My own — wait. It’s vibrating

avatar George December 21, 2010 at 1:34 am

Okay, I– what were we talking about? –Dammit. Wait.

avatar George December 21, 2010 at 1:37 am

Anyway, yeah, I agree Eminem and Lil Wayne totally powned it on SNL on Sat. I never liked that song before. –That’s what we were talking about, right? –But
Oh, sorry, sorry, this isn’t youtube.— wait….

avatar George December 21, 2010 at 4:21 am

Classic! Republish this

avatar Miller Alyce December 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Try “Since the dawn of man” . . . .

avatar Almiller December 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm

The correct spelling would be “vagina.”

avatar Almiller December 22, 2010 at 7:24 pm

This is very sad to hear. The basic tenets of a liberal arts education exist to build well-rounded, literate citizens, despite their eventual careers. Reading and writing and critical thinking are transferable skills to almost any profession. The English major is actually great preparation for all kinds of advanced professional degrees like law and medicine. There’s a long history of famous writers who were/are also practicing doctors and lawyers, and their abilities to connect with clients and patients, and understand human needs, are every bit as important as their legal and medical knowledge. Med school and law school applications now require a written “personal” essay, and many medical schools are now incorporating classes on writing creative nonfiction as a way of helping doctors understand the “stories” their patients are telling. I’m not sure how you define “career training,” but a limited skills set is just that. Why shouldn’t an insurance salesperson have the benefit of a good liberal arts education? Since selling insurance requires connecting with people, mightn’t it be useful to, for example, know a foreign language, be able to talk to clients about countries of origin, enjoy a conversation about art or music, etc.? And then there’s just the intrinsic value of being exposed to a number of different subjects and fields that can’t be overlooked. Example: my 30-something chiropractor was an English major, and his background makes him a great doctor. A surgeon I recently consulted with also had an English major.

avatar Anonymous December 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm

The arguments you make here are sound. I agree about the value of the liberal arts. But agreeing about the value of something is not the same as “requiring” everyone else to follow suit.

Can a liberal arts degree help a chiropractor or an insurance agent? Conceivably. Enough to justify the investment of $200,000? I am a little less sure. But more important is the fact that the arguments you make here could apply to ANY profession. A plumber relates to customers. A landscaper deals with contracts. The difference being, we do not require a bachelors degree for entry into those fields. And last I checked, the plumbing profession was doing fine.

Should a plumber be ALLOWED to pursue a college degree? Sure. Why not? Might some people who want to enter landscaping choose to get a degree beforehand, just to satisfy an academic urge? I encourage them to do so. But what I can’t see helping anyone at all is requiring every single person who wants to be a plumber to go read Shakespeare for four years first. You would end up with a whole bunch of future plumbers who have no interest in Shakespeare wasting a pile of money and taking up space and wasting time.

I guess I might be wrong, but I just can’t see the insurance industry collapsing in an illiterate, non-communicative heap if All State started hiring people right out of high school and training them as apprentices instead of requiring a college degree.

I have worked in landscaping with a ton of guys who never set foot in a college classroom. Plenty of them were excellent communicators and critical thinkers despite never having read Edward Said. Some of them even chose to read Robert Frost… on their own!

A degree is a hard and fast requirement to become an administrative assistant at most companies. It’s a requirement to become a newspaper reporter. Some people here are saying that’s a good thing.

I have two words for you: RN.

My wife has hers. Is she a deficient nurse for not having learned enough colonial history? Should they change the rules, require nurses to have a BSN, then fire my wife?

Or is it maybe just possible that we can train people to do all sorts of jobs without requiring them to get a bachelors? And that some of them have no desire to learn that stuff?

avatar Jody Howard December 23, 2010 at 5:11 am

I’d suggest the problem isn’t facebook, but the internet. Indeed, it would probably be more accurate to say that the problem is people. Any community worth its salt has to go through growing pains and learn how to adjust to greater exposure. Unless the Front Porch Republic wants to maintain itself as a place where a relatively small number of like-minded folks can preach to the choir, then it too will need to make the adjustment and establish norms and expectations, as well as means of dealing with those comments that fall outside the pale.

avatar Jody Howard December 23, 2010 at 5:11 am

I’d suggest the problem isn’t facebook, but the internet. Indeed, it would probably be more accurate to say that the problem is people. Any community worth its salt has to go through growing pains and learn how to adjust to greater exposure. Unless the Front Porch Republic wants to maintain itself as a place where a relatively small number of like-minded folks can preach to the choir, then it too will need to make the adjustment and establish norms and expectations, as well as means of dealing with those comments that fall outside the pale.

avatar Beth Hubbard December 23, 2010 at 3:01 pm

This really made me laugh. The only thing missing was a definition of “woods” from dictionary.com.

avatar Steven F. December 27, 2010 at 11:52 am

“before deciding it wasn’t wear my heart lay and I am now an English teacher.”

Red pen, please. . .

avatar Steven F. December 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Lord. . ..reading this made my head hurt! If any of ya’ll have to read papers written at this level by the pile, my heart goes out to ya. It seems too many kids are funneled into universities that in past decades would have gone to trade schools or directly into the work place. The idea that every young adult deserves and must have a college education is false and makes degrees inflated and meaningless.

avatar vigilarus January 17, 2011 at 5:34 am

C minus Mr. Gaylor, if that’s what it takes to get to the minimum required gpa and never have you take another English class in your pre-med/business/law/crushed dreams major.

LOL, ‘ibid books store’ and ‘the girl essay’.

avatar Anonymous January 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Via League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Hilarious. Can describe fixing papers of some average undergraduate females in the nursing program as undergraduate. That was not hilarious. That was frightening, and those women were putting genuine effort into the paper. This was one of many experiences where I have learned that you cannot underestimate people’s ignorance.

avatar wyclif June 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

Terrence: Alas, poor hurt fowl! Now he will creep into sedges. Along with a legion of privileged, snotty little frat boys.

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