Reading, Writing and Show Me

I was listening to an interview with an English professor who has her new students each year write an essay about what they like to read and write. It's an excerise not only that takes their ability into account, but also their attitudes about the subject matter. She found that her students and their inability to write coherently, or more precisely, their lack of desire to want to read and write, was more common that ever. They were cheating themselves and finding that after college, the students weren't able to assimilate into jobs that required these fundamental skills.

I've heard anecdotes of businesses having to train new employees in communications and other skills they thought they should have by the time they leave college and enter the workforce.

The professor also mentioned that they don't read books, and if they are forced to, either via college or another situation, they find the "CliffsNotes" version or just see if there's a movie of the book that came out. I thought she was joking about that, but she was serious.

It seems our writing style is starting to reflect our technology—short lines ala texting or IM conversations (Twitter?). This story in The Atlantic shares what educators are finding out and how they are combating this trend. While this article was about students from a lower socio-economic background, the trends aren't isolated to that group.

The connection between reading, formulating ideas and being able to understand and explain them seem like foundational concepts, yet many students don't either get those lessons in school or have someone at home who can reinforce it.

I know of several educators and schools that are taking this into account and providing the necessary (and successful) tools and ideas in education that enable all types of learning. In my circle of family and friends, this is always a topic of discussion and I'm happy to find out there are many success stories.

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