Tuesday, March 13, 2007
And the sad thing is...
The following is a cut and pasted email from someone on the fringes of my life, whom I hardly ever speak with but who still sends me the occasional email in search of help, normally of the written variety. Today, she is making a request for me to write a letter to her institution of higher education, explaining why she missed an assignment as well as a workshop on plagiarism (which, apparently, was required in order for her to avoid suspension...)

Other than names being changed, this is exactly how the email arrived in my inbox:

"hello, this is babs i now you probably are extremely busy, but i really needyour help. I was suppose to write a detailed lesson plan and attend aworkshop for on plagerism and I was unable to attend because I foundout i was pregnant and did not need any added stress. The school wants awell-written letter stating why i need an extention and this will go in fromof the commitee and they will decide to grant me the request or not, i amnot good at writing a letters and was wondering if you could help me out, iwould greatly appreciate it. it was the fall and spring semester that idropped out of, i told The school that because of family issues and the pregnancy iwas under a alot of stress and was unable to meet the deadline, I have adoctors letter to back this up and recently was in the hospital for bleedingand under stress. could you please help,. thank you so much, babs? have anynew pics of the baby and do you need anything for clothes? let me know i amgoing through our attick soon., babs."

In response to her email, I requested clarification. For example...is she asking for me to compose a letter on her behalf? Or is she asking me to produce a well-written letter that she can then take and sign and present as her own?

Annnd, here is her response, once again cut and pasted verbatim from email:

"you are writing it as me, i am not sure why theystill wanted the lesson plan and workshop they only stated that it was so iwould not be suspended from school. let me know if this helps"

Aside from a multitude of typos, grammatical errors and the struggle I'm having deciding how to best help her in this situation (and the inner monologue that keeps asking, do I really want to enable someone with such skills to sneak past a review board and go out into the world as an English teacher of all things?)

The sad thing is, I don't think she even sees the irony of her request.


9 Comments:

Blogger Teri said...

I feel bad for laughing so hard. I am sort of a language snob so these things always astound and amuse me.

When people tell me they can't write, I think: but it's just about forming coherent sentences and using a word processing program to catch anything you've overlooked. Hello?

A future English teacher. Wow.

Blogger dillyweed said...

I think maybe the ethical thing to do would be to confront her with how unethical it is for her to actually ask you to do that for her. And maybe even forward the letter to her advisor (or equivalent). Someone like that shouldn't be leading others in the pursuit of education. Yikes. Sticky situation, but I for sure wouldn't write it for her.

Blogger Darkmind said...

I picture someone jittering and scratching at the veins in thier elbows as they make this request.

Blogger TrappedInColorado said...

I guess I am more of a "walk a mile in their shoes" type of man. She obviously did not get a good education growing up but, yet, she is trying to get one now by attending college. You have to give her credit for that. Grade school and high school teachers let her down by allowing her to graduate with such little skills. Ofcourse, you can not write that letter but maybe give her encouragement - that she can write the letter. Maybe offer to edit it afterwards. Peace

Blogger Skye said...

Wow. I don't even know what to say. I guess I agree with trappedincolorado that the best thing would be to tell her you can't write it for her, but you can edit it for spelling/grammar/clarity after she's done. That way, you are still being kind, but not doing something immoral.

Blogger Novice said...

I agree with dillyweed in that what she's asking should not be encouraged. I think it's great that she wants to better her situation, but she's not going about it the right way at all. Listen to that inner monologue, Mella. She needs to take some steps (personally and academically) before she's ready to consider teaching as a career.

Blogger Mella said...

Oh Teri, you would've loved the draft of a her memoir that she sent me a year ago. It was actually so incredibly awful in every conceivable way that I agonized for over a week on how to best advise her to proceed.

Excellent and most helpful thoughts all around, thank you everyone!

And, Trappedincolorado, you are correct in your assumption that her life and educational history have been difficult. She dropped out of school after junior high and was 'self-taught' - which I highly admire her for.

Still, I can't help but feel slightly territorial of the degree status she's after. She is hoping to graduate with her bachelors from the same college I attended, and I would be lying if I felt more than a little disappointed that she could come away with a degree that bears the same weight as my own in the world, but that was given to her for the wrong reasons - as the result of society patting her on the back and pushing her upward and onward, almost out of pity and without regard to whether or not she is capable.

I think your suggestion is helpful though - I will ask her to draft the letter herself and then I can look it over and fix any glaring mistakes. It's really all that I can do. I'm not comfortable writing it for her, nor am I comfortable turning my back on her.

Blogger Novice said...

Good plan.

It's THAT girl, huh? I remember that memoir.

Blogger zhoen said...

Ack.

Well, maybe this explains a (very small) number of nurses who somehow managed to pass boards.

If she was doing science or phys ed, it would at least make some sense, as verbal skill is not absolutely required. Why is she going through this, if she can't do English?

Kudos for making it so far, but no, she should not get a degre, in English, when she can't write. More than irony, willful blindness. She needed that plagarism class.

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