This morning a student came up after class to ask about a comment I'd written on his draft. "I don't know what this word means," he said. Which word? "Italics."
"I was just pointing out that you've put the title of the book in quotation marks when it ought to be italicized," I explained.
"But what does that mean?"
"What does what mean?"
Here we are 13 weeks into a semester in which I've mentioned the need to italicize book titles approximately eleventy-seven times and he's just now realized that he doesn't know what "italics" means?
"I never really wrote papers before," he explained. Except that's what we've been doing in my class all semester long.
Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.