>students want to be very subjective in everything they write.
>I'm not sure why this is the case but I suspect it's because
>they have very high regards for themselves.
Ernie, I suspect that your students, like mine, have been taught from
the get-go that what they "feel" to be true is ipso facto the truth.
After all, to tell them otherwise -- to suggest that li'l Billy's
feelings are more or less valid than li'l Bobby's -- would be
"undemocratic." It would "intimidate" them, and "damage their self-
esteem." Critical thinking? Demonstrable evidence? This is all "elitism."
(And before some dolt mentions Heisenberg, let's remind ourselves that
Heisenberg was a physicist investigating specifically physical phenomena.)
I use an example similar to yours: the difference between "the purpose
of the President's trip is..." and "White House aides say the purpose,etc."
It takes a full week to explain the difference. These students become
journalists who mistake their assumptions for demonstrable fact.
As William Bennett has pointed out, we're going to continue to produce
generation after generation of dummies until we start teaching them how
to write and think, instead of how they "feel" about writing and thinking.