Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why your kids can’t write

By Ellen Finnigan at LRC. In the newspaper biz for 17 years I worked with a number of mediocrities (and not just kids never taught better) who had no business writing for a living. ‘Dumb people trying to sound important’; as Paul Fussell wrote, going for the showy and, in doing so, taking a pratfall. (‘The man was described by police as male.’) Now I write for smart people who often have a different first language and realize they need help presenting in English.

1 comment:

  1. Ellen Finnigan left no. 6 off the list: READING

    Young folks do not read enough. When one reads various authors over the years of school, one gets a sense of style in the written word including grammar, spelling (not so important IMHO), structure of a piece of writing (hopefully with a teacher's guidance), etc. I won't go so far as to say the student in his/her writing will outright imitate the styles of established authors (always a possibility), but will absorb good writing naturally as the student practices, practices, practices over the years.

    Again, this is not being done.

    When I entered college in 1966, the pundits were saying the same thing effectively as this article. In fact my college had a writing program for Freshman students. In each of our courses, including math and science courses(!), we had to write an essay of approximately three typewritten, double spaced pages on a topic pertinent to the subject of each course. Our work product was given two grades: from the teacher of the course and from our composition adviser with whom we met once a week (no college credit was given for these once a week meetings.). After a semester of these assignments, students who exhibited deficient writing skills had to defer their second semester required literature course to the 1st semester of their sophomore year. In its place students deficient in their prose skills took a remedial English composition course, hopefully to bring their writing up to standards.


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