I have come to the conclusion that teaching someone to un-learn old-school HTML markup is nearly impossible. This seems to be the one thing that plagues my better students moreso than those who really do not care about web design. Most of my students that are really into designing webpages already know how to do a lot of basic stuff with good ol’ 1998-style HTML including but not limited to: change font faces and colors, add a background image, use a table for layout, use blink/scroll, and (shudder) add music that plays when the page loads.
It stinks, because part of me is very ecstatic that they cared enough before they got to me to figure out how to get this stuff to work. Heck, when I was in high school, I did exactly the same thing with those same tags. However, it becomes very frustrating when they want to use these old-school methods when I am in fact trying to teach them how to do the same stuff with the modern, preferred CSS methods. Is it so hard to forget about the <font> tag and use a nice class that can be re-used and re-applied over and over?!?
I think the biggest obstacle to having them change their markup behavior voluntarily is that in the scope of a classroom, it’s impossible for them to experience the frustration of changing a site layout when all fonts and colors have been marked up inside the HTML itself. If they had to go through 1,000 static pages to get rid of all their <font color="red"> tags, I think they’d probably be a little more receptive to coding their sites from the ground up to take advantage of a central stylesheet for all things visual. I guess this shows that a teacher’s words are usually no substitute for experience!