The whole purpose of our academic careers has been to prepare us for the real world. This has been the goal since day one. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s Common Core curriculum has failed astronomically at teaching us one of the most crucial skills of all: communicating.
The North Carolina State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards for math and English language arts and literacy in 2010. This statewide curriculum was supposed to offer students K-12 with sets of high-quality academic standards and learning goals that carefully guide them through each grade level. The purpose was to create accountability benchmarks and lesson outlines the North Carolina State Board of Education thought would make students more successful in life.
Some people loved Common Core. Others have been calling for its removal. What our generation of North Carolina students experienced, though, was the trial version of the current Common Core curriculum that was reapproved in 2017. This updated version of Common Core was crafted in order to close the gaps found in the version we experienced, the main gap being grammar.
How many of you remember being taught grammar before college? I certainly don’t. I couldn’t tell you what a predicate is or how to use a colon if my life depended on it, and don’t even get me started on the proper placements of a comma. The sad truth is that I learned more about English grammar and sentence structure from my foreign language classes than from my English classes.
The harsh reality is that effective communication through written forms like emails, memos and reports are critical aspects of the workplace. Our generation's lack of understanding of grammar and sentence structure is making us struggle in the real world because we do not know how to write properly — much less professionally — like our future bosses expect us to.
I realized just how unprepared Common Core left our generation when a family friend began complaining about how incompetent her new employees were at writing formal reports. She called them “stupid” and “dumb” because their sentences ran onto each other, and the sentence structures were way out of place. To her, their simple grammar mistakes made the report sound unprofessional. She blamed it on texting ruining our ability to write properly, but I knew what it really was: her new hires had never been taught simple grammar.
After talking to my family friend and explaining how Common Core failed my generation, she understood that it wasn’t a flaw of her new hires but rather a flaw of the system. Since then, she has taken the time to point out the grammar mistakes to her new hires and help them learn the basic conventions the generations before and after us were taught. This has made her business look better and her employees more prepared for communicating in the workplace.
However, it isn’t a boss’s responsibility to prepare us for the real world; it’s the purpose of the education system. Our previous education curriculum failed us, but it is not too late for NC State to pick up the slack. All NC State students are already required to take ENG 101: Academic Writing and Research; however, at that level, professors already expect us to know grammar, so they don’t focus on teaching it to us. Instead, they focus on genres and rhetoric and penalize our papers for not demonstrating a better grasp on simple grammatical conventions. It’s time that NC State finally caught on and recognized the discrepancy in our generation's understanding of grammar.
By altering the curriculum of ENG 101 to include lessons on the basics of grammar, or even creating a whole new class on the topic, NC State has the chance to catch their students before they go into the real world and help empower them to be able to communicate successfully. Common Core failed to do that. The question is, will NC State do the same?