The Chronicle Review has published a wonderfully revealing essay by a man who makes his living by writing papers that college students don’t want to write themselves.
Several comments. First, he hits the nail on the head when he says that many young Americans are pathetic when it comes to writing English. Yes, some of his clients are people for whom English is a second language, but most of them are native English speakers who are terrible at writing. They’re terrible because they never had to do much of it in their K-12 years. Of all the failings of public education, that may be the worst.
Second, the guy knows only a little about the vast array of subjects he gets paid to write papers on. Nevertheless, the papers, apparently, get good marks. That doesn’t speak very well of the effort that goes into evaluating them.
Third, he admits to puffing up his writing: “I can write a four-word sentence in 40 words. Just give me a phrase of quotable text, and I’ll produce two pages of ponderous explanation.” Sounds just like most academic research.