Thursday, September 17, 2009

Contrary to (Seemingly) Popular Belief

Everywhere I go, I hear that students today are less literate than students of previous decades. I read that students are not writing letters, not buying books, making more spelling mistakes, are unable to pass standardized tests, and are just plain not as functionally literate as their forefathers.

And then I read articles like this. New evidence suggests what most classroom teachers who use technology with their students know. Kids are writing more than ever and are getting better and better at targeting specific audiences in their writing. Yes, this evidence takes into account the number of blog posts, tweets, and facebook updates students type, but isn't that writing? And, isn't it pretty amazing to think that those short blurbs can illicit any number of responses from a sometimes huge audience? Powerful stuff when you think about it.

I know that I spent most of my teen years glued to a telephone. Landline, not cell phone. I talked and talked until my father literally literally unplugged my phone from the jack and locked it in his file cabinet. But, after my phone was gone I did not start writing.

For one, the internet was basically nonexistent until after I graduated from high school. Cell phones were not common until I was in my early twenties. Texting was not common until a few years ago. Blogging was not common and not as connected as it is now. There were just not as many opportunities for me to express myself with the written (or typed, more like) word as there are for today's teens.

So, as a teacher, my response to those who complain about the spelling, grammar, and literacy of today's teens has to be something along the lines of "whaaa?". Spend any amount of time with an actual teenager and you'll see writing happening all day long.

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