Feb. 14th, 2017

korafox: (braindead)
I have a theory that's been kicking around in my head.  Who knows if it has any basis in reality; I'm sure much more well-read people seeking PhDs have looked into this sort of thing already.

I've heard a lot of people lament that kids these days (and oh, joy, that I am finally getting old enough to use that phrase, though I hope to always do so facetiously and not in malice) have no idea how to write academically.  I am definitely not qualified to assess the truth of that accusation.  But if it is true, I wonder if it's caused not by students doing much less writing, but by them doing a lot more than previous generations of students.

I'm thinking about my pre-internet days, and there was really very little writing I did that was not in some way "formal".  Mostly this was for school, with the occasional letter and thank-you note.  Even once I got on the internet, it was in ye olde days of Fanfiction.net and I was writing (very, very bad) short fiction.  These were all forms that were more compositional (to potentially invent a word) than conversational. 

But now, people are sending texts and making Facebook and Twitter posts.  They are leaving short comments on news articles and message boards.  All of these mediums are extremely conversational, and the volume of this mode of writing almost certainly outweighs the volume of formal academic writing students are doing.

Is it really all that surprising that these conversational qualities are creeping into academic writing?  That isn't to say we don't need to be teaching students how to code-switch when their future job prospects may ride on being able to communicate formally.  Also, I would much rather see short electronic communication pull towards the formal instead of the other direction.  But I do have sympathy for the students trying to navigate that divide.

Okay, I am done spitballing.  If you have an advanced English/teaching degree and you're rolling your eyes at me right now, please have mercy on the poor woman who only completed an undergraduate degree (and that in Painting, no less.)

September 2017


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