I believe I was taught grammar in the fourth grade, and I never studied it again until I took an adult education class at the New School a few decades later. It doesn’t surprise me then the findings of this article, in which freshman college students have poor grammar skills because they are simply not being taught the basics. Why has this been happening?* You can’t just blame the glut of media. These kids are in school for six or more hours per day. Reading. Writing. Arithmeticing. It’s difficult for me to see how a student goes through twelve years of school without writing a paper. How does a student get into college who writes “cuz” instead of “because” or uses an emoticon in an essay? As writers & readers do we have a responsibility to make sure the next generation of potential readers understands basic grammar?
* Admittedly, this has been happening since at least Strunk & White and possibly for much longer than that. But in an age where the written word is the second most popular form of information transfer (the first being the visual medium of television), one would expect a much higher literacy level.