I still believe writing is important. And when I talk to public relations professionals most tell me that is the No. 1 skill they look for in recent grads. We’ll see if that changes at all in the next few years as we move more toward online and social media.
I thought about that this morning when I read an article on EdNews.org: “Shakespeare Didn’t Blog. Author Says Texting and Testing Are Destroying Kids riting Style.” This looks to me like it may be a news release focusing on Jacquie Ream, who has written a book about writing called “K.I.S.S. Keep It Short and Simple.” No matter. Here are a few paragraphs:
“We have a whole generation being raised without communication skills,” says Jacquie Ream, a former teacher and author of “K.I.S.S. Keep It Short and Simple” (Book Publishers Network). She contends text messaging and the internet are destroying the way our kids read, think, and write.
A recent National Center for Education Statistics study reports only one out of four high school seniors is a proficient writer. A College Board survey of the nations [sic] blue-chip companies found only two thirds of their employees are capable writers.
Wonder if those employees are texting? LOL
Seriously — here’s a story in The New York Times, U.S. Students Achieve Mixed Results on Writing Test. It looks like it provided at least some of the information for the above news release/article. The article opens with the following:
About a third of the nation’s eight-grade students, and roughly a quarter of its high school seniors, are proficient writers, according to nationwide test results released Thursday.
IMO that isn’t much of an accomplishment — but what do I know? Again, from the article in The Times:
That a third of the nation’s eight graders can write with proficiency may not sound like much, but it is the best performance by eighth-grade students in any subject tested in the national assessment in the last three years. Only 17 percent of eight graders were proficient on the 2006 history exam, for example.
Again from the article:
The results were released at the Library of Congress in Washington. The host, James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, drew laughs when he expressed concern about “the slow destruction of the basic unit of human thought — the sentence,” as young Americans do most of their writing in disjointed prose composed in Internet chat rooms or in cellphone text messages.
I’m sure that texting is part of the reason why writing skills have declined. And this isn’t going to change any time soon. According to IDC, a research company in Framingham, Mass., that tracks technology and consumer research estimates that by 2010 81 percent of Americans ages 5 to 24 will own a cellphone, up from 53 percent in 2005.
So let’s hope that writing skills continue to be a priority for public relations professionals and others. But putting the blame solely on texting isn’t going to solve the problem. Better that we get back to stressing the fundamentials of writing — and reading — at about the same age (5) as kids apparently get a cellphone.
By the way, I read on one of the PR Web sites this morning that you need to Twitter these days if you are going to gain an audience for your blog postings. With Twitter, as I understand it, you can write anything you want as long as it doesn’t go beyond 140 characters. I’m in.