Why can't bright young people spell, punctuate, or form grammatical sentences?

Look, I myself have instances of fumblefingers, and I make typos from time to time. I'm no stickler for Oxford English and I pepper my writing with colloquialisms. I use "ain't" and "gonna" and "hopefully" (which technically should be "one hopes"). Occasionally, I'll even say "anxious" when I should say "eager" (to be anxious is to be suffering from anxiety, not full of anticipation).

However, there seem to be two categories of people who don't know how to spell, to puncuate, or form actual sentences. 1) Hillbillies playing a banjo out on some Appalachian porch or 2) people under the age of 30.

Did the schools stop teaching English? Did it become an optional course in high school? Were the kids skipping class in favor of smoking dope? Is it too much texting? What's going on here?

By cracky (LOL), back in my day we graduated students prepared for college. Today many good institutions of higher education spend the first year bringing the students up to speed on skills they should have learned in high school.

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Hi Unseen,
As someone who is under 30, I would like to respectfully inform you that the stereotype in question is not true. However, I, having perused YouTube comments and miscellaneous forums and 4Chan alike, definitely understand where you're coming from. The problem is that many children on these online forums for thought pretend to be older in order to avoid the trolling that happens to younger internet users. 

to address your questions:

I'm fairly certain that 4 years of english are a graduation pre-requisite for most (if not all) Massachusetts schools, and I'm taking AP English next year.

I think those who do smoke dope would probably skip other classes in an equal proportion, resulting in a fraction of my generation being overall uneducated... 

Texting may play some part, but the majority of my friends and I use 90% common English and 10% texting lingo for the sake of efficiency.

I'm not sure about that last statement because I'm not in college yet :P

I am hoping the ridiculous abbreviation in texting declines somewhat as full keyboards (or keypads) become more common on phones.

Every once in a while someone will roll into chat and use "2" for "to" or "too" and "U" for "you" and I just want to snarl at them "Fucking type in English!"

Here are my two cents: You guys should add an ENG099 class and dedicate it solely to teaching the difference between things like "your" and "you're"...

Now I'm not a master of the English language myself, but it's not my mother language either. Isn't it a little embarrassing when some foreign dude is able to correct your grammatical mistakes? Looking at you Ash...

It's not at all uncommon to find people for whom English is a second language using English with greater facility and authority than Americans. I had an Indian roomie for a while at one time and his English was excellent. Mostly, I corrected him on idioms (which he appreciated), for his English was very British. Of course, that is to be expected from someone who learned their English in the British sphere.

Now, to be sure, English is the universal language uniting India, a country which is very linguistically diverse. It is spoken almost everywhere, and is the great lasting gift of England to the country. Even so, for most Indians it is a second language. His primary language is Bengali, but he can speak Hindi, German, and French as well.

Most American kids can hardly use English and may also speak Spanish, given our changing demographics. However, how many kids master foreign languages anymore? And how many kids today bother learning Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Portuguese (the language of Brazil), the learning of which would not be all that hard and would almost guarantee them a job with a decent salary?

So, if anyone is thinking I want all kids to take advanced courses in English, no that's not what I'd like to see, I'd like to see all of today's kids have to take a course in English that they actually had to pass, but not with the philosophy of promoting kids whether they've learned or not. Today's schools seem to be afraid to fail their students.

not to go all conspiracy theory-ist, but about your last paragraph: 

schools get gov't subsidies based on the grades of their students. So, in a rather convoluted fashion, the more students a school passes, the more funds it gets.

so schools ARE afraid to fail their students. 

it's ridiculous, I tutor some of the kids in my school, and they speak/write worse English than I do (and English is my 3rd language)

"schools get gov't subsidies based on the grades of their students. So, in a rather convoluted fashion, the more students a school passes, the more funds it gets"

Talk about dysfunction. You'd think a school which has problems teaching a subject would need MORE aid, not less.

You are assuming that spending more money necessarily improves the result.

Inflation adjusted spending for education has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past few decades yet actual results have been stagnant if not getting worse.  Spending the money we are already giving to the system with better methodologies and perhaps not spending so much on administrative overhead would be more effective than simply shoveling more cash into the failed schools; from a bureaucratic standpoint that is rewarding failure.

It was an observation, not a stereotype. As I observed, I also run into young people who actually know how to use English and reward them with a compliment when I do.

And yet, young people whose skill with the language is impressive tend to be the exception, not the rule.

And it isn't only English. Our country is falling behind other countries having higher academic standards in math and the sciences. I think most educations in the arts are probably time wasted (and that includes my own major of philosophy). Since time immemorial, people have learned the arts by being an apprentice or understudy. And any employer who likes an applicant's artistic portfolio best but rejects them because they lack a degree is really foolish.

Academia is needed to teach math, science, and subjects based on or applying those skills. The idea that someone should go to a university to learn, say, photography (one of my own skills) is something I find lauighable. And, further, I find it sad and outrageous that kids will graduate with a "degree" in something like painting or poetry, ending up with a student loan debt of $40K, which will take a very long time to pay off with an annual income of $25K-$30K a year.

I disagree, a bit or two. I think that attaining a four-year degree in anything is an indication of one's ability to focus on goals, and to intelligently persevere to attain a long term goal. Sure, some philosophy can be totally useless, but I feel strongly that interest and study in philosophy often leads to useful enlightenment of human consciousness, just as science enables enhancements of health and the general human condition. Just like other arts, philosophy is one of those endeavors that can connect and enrich us, intellectually.

I'm OK with photography, but I wish I had more talent/aptitude for it. I can understand why some people feel it's a significant vocation to work on. Photography is another man-made tool that can be used to frame reality in interesting, enlightening ways.

Meanwhile, what bothers me the most about people who speak or write carelessly is: by the time I've figured out where they're typically coming from (e.g. what they like to learn about and talk about the most), and how intelligent/learned they are, I've wasted time I could have used to read someone else who's more linguistically talented and more obviously intelligent.

Speaking of 4-year degrees, there's a commercial on TV advertising one, in which the young lady spokesperson invites us to "call and axe for a brochure" - that is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard.

I believe texting is part of it - the constant search for abbreviated ways to say things - "h8 it!"

Then too, there's no one around that they respect and admire to stress its importance, i.e., to make it "cool."

Respect and admiration seem to be misplaced on musicians, actors, and illiterate athletes now. How many kids today really admire a writer like James Salter or even Cormac McCarthy? And as for well-known thinkers like Neil deGrasse Tyson or Richard Dawkins, while kids may admire them, how many aspire to be like them, especially when it might take time away from video games or mindlessly communicating with their peers, who have almost nothing to teach them?

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