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The British Government Is Cracking Down on Exclamation Marks

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The British government thinks kids these days are overusing exclamation marks, and they’ve decided to take a stand! According to Mashable, the Department of Education has added new grammar guidelines to the state exams that seven-year-old students will be taking this summer, which specifically stipulate the appropriate uses for exclamation marks. 

In order to crack down on what they see as the misuse of the punctuation in text messages and on social media, the Department of Education has told educators to deduct points for exclamation marks used outside of two extremely specific scenarios: sentences which begin with “What” or “How.” For instance, “What a lovely day!” is appropriate, while any variation on that sentiment—as in, “It’s a lovely day!”—will now be marked incorrect. 

Regarding their new tough stance on exclamation marks, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told Mashable, “A high-quality education in English—and the ability to communicate effectively—is an important part of the government’s commitment to extend opportunity to all.”

There’s already been some backlash against the initiative. Critics have accused the Department of Education of being old-fashioned, stifling children’s creativity, and even preventing the evolution of grammar. “Grammar is always evolving, especially with the interchange of text messages and prose,” Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham told The Sunday Times. “To knock children back for experimenting with punctuation seems absurd."

[h/t Mashable]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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