Final Comment for Today

Subject: Final Comment for Today
From: George Mena <George -dot- Mena -at- ESSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 14:44:34 -0700

A closing thought:

I had a chance to respond to a listmember who also heads the techcomm
program at a major university in the southeasterm US recently. Part of
his initial post is excerpted here:
===========

I'm working on an in-house proposal at (school name deleted)
to improve our professional and technical writing program. The local
chapter of the STC has been quite helpful, but I find myself still
seeking the following:

1. We know undergraduates often lack the literacies of the
workplace (knowledge of tools for writers, knowledge of writing
processes, etc.)

============
This passage made my heart skip a beat. This passage basically said (to
me, anyway) that a four-year school's technical writing program, as it
exists now, was inadequate in serving the needs of its immediate
community. When I found out the name of the immediate community, I
realized its needs are indeed unique -- and was accordingly shocked at
this statement's implications.

If this dialog had come from anywhere else, maybe I would be a bit less
dispassionate about this. The fact of the matter, however, is that this
program includes serving the educational needs of students in the Cape
Canaveral area in Florida. Say what you like about the state of our
space program if you must, but when I read the first item of the
original post regarding this particular school's technical
communications program at the university level being this inadequate, I
suddenly became very concerned about the people who'll be working in the
space program in the 21st Century. Especially the technical writers!

When I was in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the
American space program really was a source of pride and joy in my life.
This country was doing something positive and it was doing it right!
We'd landed on the moon (and beaten the Russians in the process) and
were actually trying to promote international peace with the joint
Skylab/Soyuz missions. Did we have a lot of work to do here on Earth?
We sure did. And we still do. But the space program to me meant we
were at least going in the right direction as a planetary civilization!

Today, we're far more concerned with making sure our teachers are paid
enough and that our students don't need to go to junior college to
master subjects they should have mastered in grade school. That bothers
me a great deal, but to go into detail on this part of the discussion
takes us away from what's appropriate for discussion here on the list.

Lacking the literacies of the workplace is what the "What did you say?"
thread was all about and nothing else. I intended to discuss nothing
else.

George Mena, Tech Writing Consultant
(with special thanks and prayers of gratitude to Lew Jr., Art Jr.,
Brian, Charlie, Don, Loran, Dewey and Catfish, wherever you are.)


From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=



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