Our students are not snowflakes: Leeds Trinity University lecturer responds to capital letters row

\Our students are not snowflakes\: Leeds Trinity University lecturer responds to capital letters row

Piers Morgan slams university bosses who told lecturers to stop using capital letters

Piers Morgan vented his fury over a university issuing instructions to lecturers to avoid using capital letters when assigning work to students – for fear of upsetting them.   

The memo sent out to staff at Leeds Trinity journalism department suggested that using uppercase letters may scare them into failure, according to the Express.

“For every assignment, academic staff have an ‘unpacking’ session with students so the students are clear on what is expected. The majority of universities do this. It is also about good communication and consistent style. For example, it is best practice not to write in all capital letters regardless of the sector.

Piers, 53, was baffled when he read out the news on ITVs Good Morning Britain on Tuesday, declaring that the worlds gone nuts and accused students of not living in the real world.

“It was argued that the loud noise of traditional clapping and whooping pose an issue to students with anxiety or sensory issues. BSL clapping — or, jazz hands — would be a more inclusive form of expression,” student newspaper the Mancunion reported.

GMB viewers agreed with the presenters take on the move, with one tweeting: You couldnt make it up!

It follows similar news in September, when The University of Manchester’s student union made global headlines after voting to ban clapping and cheering at certain events in order to avoid triggering those with anxiety or sensory issues.

Academics at Leeds Trinity were sent advised to "write in a helpful, warm tone, avoiding officious language and negative instructions".

“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.

According to a staff memo aimed at "enhancing student understanding, engagement and achievement", capitalising a word could emphasise "the difficulty or high-stakes nature of the task".

The story quickly spread across the UK media as well as on social media, with many members of the public slamming it as extreme “political correctness” pandering to the “snowflake generation.”

The memo says: "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. Generally, avoid using capital letters for emphasis and "the overuse of do, and, especially, dont.

Professor Margaret House, Leeds Trinitys vice-Chancellor, said that the university follows  national best practice teaching guidelines.

The memo is guidance from a course leader to academic staff, sharing best practice from the latest teaching research to inform their teaching, she said.  

“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,” it reads.

For every assignment, academic staff have an unpacking session with students so the students are clear on what is expected.

The majority of universities do this. It is also about good communication and consistent style. For example, it is best practice not to write in all capital letters regardless of the sector.

The Leeds Trinity staff memo also says that staff must be "explicit about any inexplicitness" in their assignment briefs.

It explains that when students are unsure of an assessment, they often discuss it among themselves, which can lead to misconceptions or misunderstandings spreading throughout the class. This is usually aided and abetted by Facebook, the memo adds.

“This can lead to further confusion and students may even then decide that the assessment is too difficult and not attempt it,” the statement reads.

This can lead to further confusion and students may even then decide that the assessment is too difficult and not attempt it, it says.

But many social media users pointed out there was little difference between “banning” words and capital letters and asking staff not to use them.

Earlier this year, one of the countrys leading girls schools banned teachers from writing negative comments on pupils end-of-year exams.

Putney High School in south-west London had already stopped grading pieces of work for pupils aged 11 to 14 in order to stop girls getting overly fixated on their mark.

It has a student population of more than 3625 and offers foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate degrees in a range of humanities and social sciences.

The £19,000-a-year school then took things one step further by axing comments in favour of symbols, allowing girls to work out themselves where they have gone wrong.

When marking the Year Nine girls end-of-year exams, teachers were banned from making any comments other than a brief line of genuine praise.

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