Thursday, July 21, 2005

Zinging the Messenger

You can imagine how thrilled I was when my monthly Aggie Express newsletter arrived from my alma mater this morning via email delivery.  A PDF (I don't mind when it's the newsletter).  And in it, an entire page devoted to "Writing is a Life Skill."  It's a glimpse into the perceived "real edge" gained by children who hone writing habits. Aggie Express in flight, aphorismic delight:

"While your children will learn how to write well in school, the best place for them to practice their skills and develop a love for writing is at home."
"Have the tools on hand."
"Write in front of them." [Never behind them.  Or on the side.]
"Praise their work."
"Make a book."
"Add writing to your list."
"Pay attention to song lyrics." [Forward thinking, I'd say.]
"Use the Web."

But you knew there would be a shocker--a firecracker in the cake.  It's this:

E-mails are OK; IMs aren't really writing.
This technologically savvy generation writes more than ever, thanks to computer instant messages (IMs) and e-mails. In fact, the accepted use of symbols and lack of proper grammar may not help children's efforts at creative writing. While IMs are quick and fun, they do nothing to help children become better writers. E-mails are better because they allow time and space for children to express themselves.

Interesting to me that the piece seems so conflicted about the the new attention writing is getting in the digital age (ah, not to mention that catlyzing force, the SAT). Of course I'd like to see them complicate the IM position just a bit. "They do nothing to help children become better writers" (my emph)?  Okay.  Seriously, more than cranking on old BCHS, I'm sharing this as just one example of the circulating edicts about what counts (no it doesn't!) as writing.  Not an issue I aim to correct solely by shooting a notice of contempt into e-space, but I contend that many of the wonky commonplaces about writing circulate at this low-flying altitude--the newsletter to a few hundred parents who, if they've considered writing much at all, consider it in this light.  Suppose it might make a difference if you'd been there (for twelve years).

Bookmark and Share Posted by at July 21, 2005 11:36 PM to Distances