PC Culture

Lecturers Warned Not to Use Capital Letters to Avoid Scaring Students

(Jan Erik Posth/Getty Images)
This is completely nuts.

Lecturers in the journalism department at Leeds Trinity University in the United Kingdom were warned not to use all caps when communicating with students because it might make them too scared to do the assignment.

“Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all,” states a memo that the lecturers received, according to The Express. “Generally, avoid using capital letters for emphasis and the overuse of ‘do’, and, especially, ‘DON’T.’”

Unsurprisingly, not all lecturers are happy with the new guidelines. Reportedly, one staff member told The Express that they sometimes like to use all capital letters to emphasize certain points to students, making sure that they do not miss them.

“We have some excellent students, but it’s a constant battle against a system that wants to treat them like little kids,” the lecturer stated. “We are not doing our students any favours with this kind of nonsense.”

Still, the school is standing behind its advice, insisting that it’s what’s best for the the students.

“At Leeds Trinity University we support our students to be the very best they can be,” Professor Margaret A. House OBE, vice chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, told Mirror Online. “We’re proud to offer a personal and inclusive university experience that gives every student the support to realise their potential.”

“We follow national best practice teaching guidelines, and the memo cited in the press is guidance from a course leader to academic staff, sharing best practice from the latest teaching research to inform their teaching,” she continued.

Sorry — but this is completely nuts. I understand that all caps can be a bit annoying at times, but scary? Actually, not just scary, but so scary — so deeply, dramatically traumatizing — that it might render students completely unable to do the assignment? I’m sorry, but . . . no. I may be having too much faith in humanity here, but I highly doubt that this describes even a single student at this college. If it does, then I hope that that student does the right thing, leaves college, and goes to get the serious mental help that he or she needs. I don’t even mean that as an insult, I mean it sincerely: If you can’t handle capital letters, then your priority should be taking care of that immediately because you’re not ready for higher education or really for much of anything.

The concerned lecturer is absolutely correct that this isn’t doing “students any favors.” After all, college is supposed to be preparing these young adults for the real world, where they’re going to have to encounter all kinds of things — including capital letters. That’s right: In the real world, if your boss sends you an email with that states, “Make sure the report is done BY TUESDAY AFTERNOON,” you actually can’t just never do it and expect your boss to accept the fact that you were too scared by his or her capital letters to do it. You’d be laughed out of the office, if not sent somewhere for a mental evaluation. It’s better to get practice facing scary things — like capital letters, apparently — in an environment where the consequences are less severe than, say, losing your home because you went out in the real world being unable to handle them.

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