Asao Inoue, a University of Washington-Tacoma professor and the director of the school’s Writing Center, will reportedly be heading up a seminar at American University next month to teach faculty how to assess writing without judging its quality. Because “grading ain’t just grading,” according to an introduction to the seminar. Ain’t that the truth!
Professor Inoue appears to be overqualified for the job of encouraging sloppier and shoddier writing. In fact, he wrote the book on it. In his 2015 classic, “Antiracist Writing Assessment Ecologies: Teaching and Assessing Writing for a Socially Just Future,” he explained, “We must rethink how we assess writing, if we want to address the racism.” Inoue avers that teachers and professors should “calculate course grades by labor completed,” not by the quality of writing “when producing course grades.” In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover. Or by anything written on the pages inside.
The Nutty Professor believes that avoiding judging the quality of a student’s writing will lead to “compassionate” classrooms. He says that subjecting students to “single standards” perpetuates “white language supremacy.” Inoue will lecture on “language standards that just kill our students.” Call me a skeptic, but I don’t take that literally, though it’s obvious his lack of standards will lead to a butchering of the language.
One seminar session will teach participants how to assess and grade writing “most meaningfully for students,” by explaining-- in detail-- how “dimension-based rubrics” can be used to “acknowledge the diverse range of readers in any classroom.”
So, “labor completed” should be the key factor in assessing a paper, post, article or book? That makes good nonsense! By Inoue’s “logic” the New York phone book or the IRS tax code should receive top grades while the Declaration of Independence would get short shrift for coming in at only 1,320 words in length…and for being written by ancient white men.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
Asked to write a brief summary of that quote and what it means to him, Robert Johnson, one of professor Inoue’s students, might well write something like: “So, like, my man goes, um…that edumacation is cool ‘cuz it, you know…makes us think and shit. And be critical of white dudes who think they’re smart. ‘Cuz they ain’t. And that real edumacation is all about social justice anyway.” (Rob is a white kid from Washington, D.C.).
If teachers truly want to assess and grade a youth’s writing in a manner “most meaningfully for students,” they must be honest and tough, but fair. They should insist on high standards, not condemn their charges to the soft tyranny of low expectations.
Inoue is engaging in the vilest form of virtue-signaling. No doubt he feels “woke,” but his standard of no standards is terrible for the future of his students……and his country.
(Writing is personal for me. As the brilliant author Steve Rushin states: “Many people say ‘words fail me.’ I’ve always been afraid that I’ll fail words”).
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