Write Well…Please!

In 2010, President Barack Obama set a goal that every student should graduate from high-school ready for college and a career.

In 2010, the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher defined college and career readiness as:

  • Ability of students to write clearly and persuasively
  • Ability of students to master higher-level math and science
  • Knowledge of other cultures
  • Knowledge of international issues.

I’d like to address the first bullet item:  the ability of students to write clearly and persuasively.   In eight years of teaching the college student, the ability of students to write well has declined.  College students do not write well!

Most educators blame technology.  With the advent of the computer, students use their time gaming, texting, and surfing the Net.  This fact, coupled with the decline in recreational reading adds to poor writing skills.

According to Steven King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:  read a lot and write a lot.”  The college student does neither.

The blame should not be placed on the student alone.  Grammar school and high-school teachers have to take responsibility for this decline; however, the college professor must take full responsibility for graduating students who cannot write well.

American education is segmented into disciplines.  Teachers teach history, art, math, English, etc.   Teachers teach specific subjects with little to no overlap.  Therein lies the problem!   Who teaches writing to the college student?  The “other” teacher.  Well, this needs to stop.

Students should not pass a class if written communication skills are not present.  Writing, even adequate writing, is a skill that must be taught and reinforced.  We expect students to edit their writing; however, very few students know grammar rules.  So, they write and print or write and send; very few edit, edit, and edit some more.   English grammar must be taught and reinforced in all disciplines.

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