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

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.)

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122 comments on this post.
  1. Cecelia:

    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.

  2. Terrence:

    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.

  3. Terrence:

    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.

  4. Samuel:

    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.

  5. dave:

    http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2006/12/a_guide_to_grad.html

  6. John Médaille:

    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?

  7. Extollager:

    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.

  8. republican:

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

  9. CMadden:

    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!!!!!

  10. Anamaria:

    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).

  11. Jason:

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

  12. Anonymous:

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

  13. vegetablelollipop:

    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

  14. Anon:

    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?

  15. Seoghsigh:

    Today’s undergrad would not own CDs.

  16. Samuel:

    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.

  17. pz:

    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.

  18. WRD:

    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.

  19. LM:

    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.

  20. Tim:

    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?)

  21. PLH:

    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.

  22. Matt Rodrigue:

    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!

  23. Joe:

    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…

  24. Cynthia Germain Bazinet:

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

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

  25. Caitlin:

    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.

  26. Jim Michael:

    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.

  27. Matt Rodrigue:

    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. : )

  28. Matt Rodrigue:

    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.

  29. Matt Rodrigue:

    Spot on.

  30. Jim:

    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.

  31. Metternich:

    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.

  32. MorsDei:

    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.

  33. Spencer:

    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.

  34. Brian:

    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.

  35. Shfwilf:

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

  36. Samuel:

    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.

  37. Anonymous:

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

  38. Anonymous:

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

    No, one really doesn’t.

  39. Anonymous:

    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.)

  40. Anonymous:

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

  41. Anonymous:

    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.

  42. Gene Callahan:

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

  43. Gene Callahan:

    “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!

  44. Nick Danger:

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

  45. Leila:

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

  46. WmOh:

    You not funny.

  47. RM:

    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.”

  48. Teacher726:

    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?

  49. Brian:

    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.

  50. Humbug:

    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.

  51. Motmaitre:

    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?

  52. Jdsmith:

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

  53. Jdsmith:

    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.

  54. Anonymous:

    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.

  55. Whitney Kurtz-Ogilvie:

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

  56. Brian:

    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.

  57. DyingByDegrees:

    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…

  58. TR:

    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.

  59. pz:

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

  60. pz:

    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.

  61. Jordan Smith:

    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.

  62. Anonymous:

    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.

  63. Alethea:

    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.

  64. Shannon Wright:

    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.)

  65. pz:

    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.

  66. Eric:

    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.

  67. Anonymous:

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

  68. kill your idol:

    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.

  69. Mborok:

    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.

  70. Armand P. Deshler:

    “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.

  71. Grace:

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

  72. El:

    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).

  73. Anonymous:

    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.

  74. Ken Reibel:

    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.

  75. MSh:

    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.

  76. MSh:

    turnitin.com or safeassign, baby.

  77. msh:

    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.

  78. Msh:

    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).

  79. Wiggy:

    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.

  80. ta4eva:

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

  81. Anonymous:

    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.

  82. Jdsmith:

    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.

  83. Jdsmith:

    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.

  84. Really?:

    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.

  85. Anonymous:

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

  86. Anonymous:

    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.

  87. Kalibhakta:

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

  88. WmOh:

    “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.

  89. Sprof88:

    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?

  90. Evjustin:

    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.

  91. KMonty:

    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…

  92. David Conrad:

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

  93. David Conrad:

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

  94. Jordsmith:

    Nota Bene on Art & Letters.

    No wonder there have been so many comments!

  95. Dan Nugent:

    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.

  96. Peter Paul Fuchs:

    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.

  97. Samuel:

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

  98. Dan:

    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!

  99. Peter Paul Fuchs:

    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??

  100. Peter Paul Fuchs:

    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??

  101. Peter Paul Fuchs:

    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??

  102. D.W. Sabin:

    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.

  103. Chris Gayler:

    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].

  104. Jordan Smith:

    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.)

  105. CMadden:

    Indeed, whom! Touche.

  106. George:

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

  107. George:

    Sorry. My own — wait. It’s vibrating

  108. George:

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

  109. George:

    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….

  110. George:

    Classic! Republish this

  111. Miller Alyce:

    Try “Since the dawn of man” . . . .

  112. Almiller:

    The correct spelling would be “vagina.”

  113. Almiller:

    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.

  114. Anonymous:

    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?

  115. Jody Howard:

    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.

  116. Jody Howard:

    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.

  117. Beth Hubbard:

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

  118. Steven F.:

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

    Red pen, please. . .

  119. Steven F.:

    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.

  120. vigilarus:

    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’.

  121. Anonymous:

    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.

  122. wyclif:

    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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