Yes, once again The Wire has helped me figure out my life. WHY WHY WHY have I seen an uptick in essays that have a gorgeous structure—intro/thesis, clear transitions, academic style, good introductions of sources, clear citations AND YET almost entirely random quotes that DO NOT MATCH the general statements that precede them?
I’m just guessing on account of teaching to the test.
The Wire Season 4, Episode 9, “Know Your Place”
In this episode of The Wire (NO SPOILERS! I’m only on Season 4 for chrissakes) Pryzbylewski is lamenting having to teach students to begin and end each answer in a formulaic way, and somehow KAZAAM! everything was clear to me.
I have clever students who are (as Ken Bain would point out) strategic enough to do what they need to do to get the grade they want, so they learn the format, and the tone, and YET:
It looks something like this (totally made up, not based on a particular student paper):
General statement: Even though girls are thought of as being cleaner and neater than boys, that’s not always true.
Quote used: “RQ1: How do male college students’ self-reported hand washing behaviors compare to perceptions of hand washing prevalence in the population of male students on campus?”
Or, even, “In a scholarly, peer-reviewed article called ‘Testing the Effects of Social Norms and Behavioral Privacy on Hand Washing: A Field Experiment,’ Lapinski et al. ask “how do male college students’ self-reported hand washing behaviors compare to perceptions of hand washing prevalence in the population of male students on campus?”‘(Lapinski et al. 341)*,
p.s. I’ve lost track of the whole single quote/double quote thing.
p.p.s. *I totally made up that page number
THE POINT IS, if you’re just skimming, the way I’m sure I would if I were an AP exam reader (and the way in which I’m sure actual AP readers don’t skim, right?), it sounds fine. But if you actually read for content, for substance, for MEANING, Jaysus, it don’t work at all. I mean, Jeebus.
Which reminds me of a Bible verse: 2 Timothy Chapter3, verses (written, as we like to say, by the Apostle Paul to the lovely young Timothy):
“3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will [all kinds of stuff Paul is bothered by, some of which I am bothered by, some not so much] 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
A form of godliness, but denying its power. That so much applies to churches, and “godly” folks, but also language, to quote scripture: “The word of god is seldom, and tremblingly partook.”
Did Paul get exhausted? This exhausts me. Have nothing to do with such people.