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Reading: Bad Grammar? No Job.

grammar, professionalization, stereotype

CEO Kyle Wiens has a strict grammar policy, and he explains it in this Harvard Business Journal article. For Wiens, bad grammar is a professional deal breaker, no matter how qualified the applicant might otherwise be. He is also clear that this applies at all levels of the work for his business, not just the management or writing positions. If someone is stocking shelves, he believes, they should have to pass a grammar test to do it.

Wiens’ blunt message seems to get students talking. In discussions I’ve had, students have called his policy into question as unfair and discriminatory. We’ve used this as a platform to talk about how grammar can be used to discriminate against someone and how grammar can be used to judge someone. Then we’ve talked about whether that judgment is fair or not.

briefcase man on a windy day

Here are some possible class discussion or reading response questions:
  • What do you think of Wiens policy? Should “bad” grammar be a deal breaker?
  • Do you agree with Wiens that there is such a thing as bad grammar? What makes grammar good or bad?
  • Have you ever judged someone by the way that they talk or write? Have you ever been judged for the way that you talk or write?
  • Are there some situations where judging grammar makes more sense than others? When is grammar usage most important?
This essay could also be used in combination with “Grammar: A Matter of Fashion” to discuss how the two views conflict and intersect.
Photo: Susan NYC
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