Progressive University of Washington-Tacoma professor Asao Inoue is asserting that grading papers based on quality is racist. Instead, he asserts that professors should give out grades based on how much work a student put into the assignment, rather than grading on the final product.
Yes — this is a real thing that really happened at a real college.
In a seminar scheduled to take place on February 1, 2019, Professor Inoue will talk about his belief that American grammar is racist and uses an “unjust” language structure. He will also argue that professors should dispense with judgements of quality when grading course papers. However, this isn’t the first time the professor has stated his extreme views on quality writing. He has stated in the past that there is no inherent “standard” of English as language is constantly changing. He goes on to note that a person’s ability or inability to communicate using proper grammar and spelling should not impact his or her future job opportunities.
The assertion would be hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that Professor Inoue’s position is actually far more racist than the English language is. His underlying belief is that some people simply cannot grasp the complexities of the English language; therefore, these people should be given a free pass so that they can receive the grades they want without having to actually earn them. However, the truth is that there are many African-American, Hispanic and other minority students who excel in speaking and writing English because they put in the time and hard work to learn proper grammar. Telling these individuals that their effort counts for nothing because other people have a hard time with English is an insult. Instead, professors who eschew racism should grade students based solely on academic achievement.
If any student performs well, that student should be given a high grade. Those who don’t do well should be assigned a grade in line with their performance.
There is also the fact that, in the real world, a boss won’t care how much “effort” an employee puts into performing a particular task. What matters is how well the job is done. If an employee takes hours to do a job but still can’t do it right, that employee can and should expect to be fired. Unfortunately, young people who need to learn this skill aren’t going to learn it by attending Professor Inoue’s class at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Instead, as Professor Inoue himself notes, his class puts an emphasis on “rhetorical situations” while “challenging conventional word choices and writing explanations.” It can be assumed that many of his students are learning to be creative in their written and spoken English; however, it is unlikely that this creativity will be appreciated outside the academic world.
It should be noted that not all students do well with English grammar, and many individuals who have a hard time in this field find success in other fields such as blue-collar work, IT work or other career opportunities. However, learning how to spell and write well is an important skill that can lead to success in many fields. Sadly, Professor Inoue and those who believe his theories about the “white language supremacy” are doing students a disservice.
Students who think that they can get by in the real world without being able to speak and write English well will find themselves missing out on plenty of job opportunities, and it won’t be because employers are inherently racist. What is more, teaching students that they don’t need to work hard to learn a skill that may be hard to master will only handicap students who may perform well in other arenas.
~ Liberty Planet