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Subject:Re: Report on how kids can't write well From:Matthew Wong <wong -at- ACEC -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 16 Aug 1994 13:16:53 +5E
As a former instructor of English 101 (Introduction to Writing and
Composition), I appreciate most of what is being said about this topic. I
notice that to a some extent, most of us are willing to view this problem
about kids who can't write as a social problem--that is, parents are not
teaching, no accountability in our teaching system, etc. Certainly, in varying
degrees, there is some truth in all these reasons. Afterall, I remember a
student telling me that he doesn't have to worry about writing because when
he graduates and finds himself a position, his secretaries will do his writing
for him. (This was in the mid go-go-80s, and he was for me very much a
symbol of the times.)
But I must confess that I don't believe there is any social crisis here. In my
experience some kids can write, other can't or won't. But I truly believe that
it is a matter of maturity: when most kids grow up a little they will find
writing important enough in their lives that they will strive to do it well.
If there is any problem with the way writing is being taught, I believe it is
this: that no distinction is being made between what is written and how it is
written. In most schools, students are being taught grammar, sentence
structures, etc., the mechanics of writing. High schools tend to spend much
more time on the mechanics (tell me I am wrong) for one reason or
another--perhaps it much more tangible. On the other hand, I believe as
much focus should be given on how to generate and develop ideas--the
content. At the Univ. of Maryland, we tried to show how the most graceful
writing is useless if it informs no idea or interesting point of view. On the
other hand, it is just as pointless if you cannot communicate effectively a
most interesting idea.