We don’t need no educaiton

Yes, education is misspelled above, just like it was on the diplomas awarded to Westlake (OH) High School’s graduating class. [source]

A Cleveland-area principal says he is embarrassed his students got proof of their “educaiton” on their high school diploma.

Westlake High School officials misspelled “education” on the diplomas distributed this weekend. It’s been the subject of mockery on local radio.

Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent the diplomas back once to correct another error. When the corrected diplomas came back, no one bothered to check the things they thought were right the first time.

Publisher Jostens has reprinted the new diplomas — a third attempt — and sent them to the 330 graduates.

I’m not going to mock the principal.  I do understand that typos happen; I make them myself.  However, based on the poor grammar, spelling and usage I have personally seen in written form from educators (who surely studied English in process of earning their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education), I wonder if this isn’t a symptom of systemic carelessness.  What additional details are being neglected?  Why?

I have no vendetta against teachers.  In fact, I place a high value on their mission.  However, the impact of poor language skills among educators titrates through the workforce.  Teachers’ written and spoken language habits are passed along to a generation of students who are already influenced by IM and text acronyms and abbreviations.

The ability to communicate begins with the ability to use written and spoken language effectively.  Without that, something else entirely is communicated.  The problem is, we don’t even think it matters.   You’re always communicating something.  Sadly, I’ve too often witnessed teachers communicating “language skills aren’t important” by failing to use them personally, or correct them in students’ work.   Every area of the workforce is effected by this one, key element.

The moral of the story?  We’re all subject to this erosion of language.  Take the time to proofread, check your spelling, grammar and usage.  Buy a dictionary and a grammar book if you need to; don’t rely on Microsoft’s spelling and grammar check to get it right for you because it won’t.  Make sure you’ve written what you intend to communicate.  Know the difference between “hear” and “here” or “there”, “their” and “they’re” or “its” and “it’s”.  Remember that “irregardless” isn’t really a word.  Realize that when you start a sentence with “because” that the reader isn’t inside your thoughts and doesn’t know the answer to “because why” unless you tell us.  Treat language as though it is valuable, use it as though it is powerful, and it will give you real impact as a communicator.

You’re always communicating something.  What are you communicating?

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One Response to “We don’t need no educaiton”

  1. A
    June 20, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    I’m always disappointed when I receive a letter from my daughter’s public school, or worse, the newsletter! I’m abnormal in that I edit and review for authors all the time so I’m a little more up on the correct grammar and spelling than average. BUT, these are educators. There IS a higher standard to which they should strive. They are the ones teaching the next generation, as you mentioned. Parents shouldn’t have to correct the TEACHER’S mistakes. *sigh* Sorry, it’s soapbox issue for me. :-)

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