hoffmalr–I’m glad to see that we are on the same page. I am also able to detect whether a post was written by someone whose first language is not English, or whether–as you said–it was written by someone who chose to sleep through his/her English classes. I am very tolerant of mistakes made by those who have just recently begun to learn English, and I am frequently not tolerant of mistakes made by those who took their 12 years of free education in the US for granted.
In my first career–as an educator (5 years as a teacher, 29 years as a school counselor)–I always used to tell my students that, in an ideal world, everyone would have both high intelligence and high motivation–but that many people lack one or the other. I would then tell them that the person with high motivation/lower intelligence is the one who is more likely to be successful in life, as compared to the person with low motivation/high intelligence.
I also stressed the importance of written communication skills, and in my retirement, I think back with pleasure on the scores of successful engineers, MDs, accountants, mechanics, secretaries, and others whom I fostered, counseled, and encouraged while they were students. On the other hand, I sometimes also think of the ones who told me that school wasn’t important, or that learning wasn’t cool, or who uttered any number of other excuses. Some of the latter type were actually very intelligent, but in the long run, they failed to achieve anything other than minimum-wage status and, in some cases chronic depression, because of their lowly employment.
Intelligence is equally distributed among all ethnic and racial groups, yet I consistently observed that my “recent arrivals” from Asia, Europe, Latin Ameica and Africa–who only began to learn English upon their arrival in the US–frequently scored higher on both SAT/ACT exams and on high school graduation tests, as compared to native-born American students who were cursed with low motivation. Clearly, motivation to succeed made the difference for these immigrant students, as they had exposure to the same curriculum, the same teachers, and the same academic environment as the low motivation/low-achievers.
If someone doesn’t bother to pay attention while in high school, there is always a second chance at education. After all, this is the USA!
I would encourage Chris and those like him, to avail themselves of the classes that are out there–sometimes free-of-charge. Next month, once I clear my agenda of other projects, I intend to begin work with my county’s Literacy Volunteers. That is but one example of help that is available without charge. In other cases, Adult School classes and non-matriculation courses at local community colleges are available for fees that are fairly reasonable.
Many years ago, someone wrote to Ann Landers with the following dilemma: " I want to go back to school for 3 or 4 years in order to improve myself, but I will be XX years old by the time that I finish. Won’t that be too late?" Ann’s response was, “And how old will you be in 3 or 4 years if you don’t go back to school?”
Along those lines, in order to be able to qualify for a new second career, I went back to college after retiring from my first career in education. I was the oldest student in my classes–by far. Yes, I did feel a bit strange among 19-25 year olds, but I did what I needed to do. Imagine my pride when the professor of one of my law classes announced to the students that I was the only person who had ever achieved a perfect score on his final (essay) exam. And, upon graduation, along with my diploma, I was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for my status as the highest ranked student in that curriculum.
It is never too late to further yourself through education.