When things changed

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I’ve had a running joke, at Kitchen Table Math and elsewhere, that something happened in 1985.

Either we were hit by a meteor and we’re all dead but we don’t know it.

Or we were hit by a meteor and knocked into a parallel universe but we don’t know it.

Or — and apparently this one has a number of fans — we’re actually living inside a computer simulation and the programmer changed the rules but we don’t know it.

Anyway, preparing for tomorrow’s class on graduate research and writing, I took a look at Robert Connors’ “The Erasure of the Sentence” (which Katharine writes about here) and discovered that Connors dates the moment when things changed to just two years before I do: he puts it in 1983.

In an astonishing reversal of fortune for sentence rhetorics, [interest in teaching sentences] . . . died away after 1983 or so. The articles on sentence issues fell away radically, and those that were written were more and more about applications to learning disabilities, or English as a second language, or special education. Erstwhile syntactic rhetoricians turned to other issues….

The few general articles that were published after 1986 came more and more to be critical, but even the criticisms died away. After the mid- 1980s, the sentence rhetorics of the 1960s and 1970s were gone….


One thought on “When things changed

  1. We are now over 30 years into the death of content knowledge. We have broken the link back. Only a few of us can read enough to pass on the past to the future, and a tinier few know we need to.

    I had a dust-up at my kids’ new school recently. The teacher gave out a book report with –not exaggerating here,
    this is the honest truth-27 possible activities, none of which was a book report, and only two involved words. Most were stupider than a diorama. One (the one my kid chose, naturally) involved putting some items related to the book in a bag and bringing the bag in.

    The teacher, the teacher’s aide, and the principal all defended this insanity. All of them were over 35.

    “They don’t do book reports in school anymore!” was the defense.

    It’s the Idiocracy version of a book report. No writing necessary.


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