There’s a great but disturbing op-ed in the Washington Post today about the poor vocabulary of college students. Michael Skube, who teaches at Elon University in North Carolina, laments that his students don't know "impetus," or "brevity," or, for that matter, "novel."
How does one explain the inability of college students to read or write at even a high school level? One explanation, which owes as much to the culture as to the schools, is that kids don't read for pleasure.You may be thinking you've never heard of Elon and it must be a lousy school. No, it's a small, quality liberal arts college. I actually interviewed there once and was quite impressed. The fact is, students don't read any more. Heck, I have students who, largely for financial reasons, don't even buy their textbooks. And their lack of reading limits not only their vocabulary, but their critical thinking skills. I'm certain that this has a lot to do with why the increasingly conservative media gets away with so many lies and distortions. People who don't read will not develop the skills needed to see through the mendacity. It makes them terrible students and poorly informed voters. And I don't have a clue what to do about it.