A friend who teaches American and sometimes Asian history courses sent me the following enquiry, which she received via email from one of her American history students. I am happy to say that I have never received a student message this inane or inarticulate, though the fundamental confusion about the geography of the world and the chronology of our recent past is somewhat familiar.
Now, I have a question pertaining to the history of World War 2. I was wondering why we dropped the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. because we didnt do it until 1945 and Pearl Harbor was in 1941. Also, we had already gotten back at them on April 18, 1942 in Tokyo right? First it was Hiroshima on August 6th and then three days later we dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki in 1945, correect? My other question is if Japan is a seperate country from North Korea and I know its seperate from China, but do they speak Chinese. Last night I was watching Pearl Harbor and in it they said to remember these words, I can’t say them, but they were in Chinese. I thought it was the Japanese we were mad at in Tokyo. I am a little confused about this please help.Thanks, XXXXXXXXXX
Of course the general ignorance of this message is frustrating, but what really bothers me is the lack of formality. I have talked with colleagues about this, and many disagree. Email is the students’ natural medium, they say, and they are not used to writing in the style of a letter as I would prefer: “Dear Professor So-and-So.” Still, it rankles me when I get emails from students that begin, “Hey, I was wondering . . .” Related to the lack of formality is the absence of care regarding spelling and grammatical errors. We all send emails (or publish blog entries) without spell-checking, but the above message is just egregious.