I came across this Letter to the Editor in a recent Wall Street Journal issue. Excerpted here, writer Natalie Canavor of Annapolis, MD was lamenting the fact that not only have ACT writing scores declined since 2006, but that writing tests were no longer required by either ACT or SAT college entrance exams. I wanted to share her thoughts with my fellow writers, followed by my own:
“Few universities concern themselves with teaching practical writing skills for the workplace. Poor writing skills have been identified as the biggest disconnect between academia and what employers need, in some cases desperately. Our digital age doesn’t reduce the need for well-written, everyday communication, ranging from customer correspondence to marketing materials to presentations…Should we care the about quality of writing? How can we not?”
We are in a cultural crucible that ought to be of tremendous concern to us all. But while Ms. Canavor’s observations frustrated and angered me, I also found myself overcome with thankfulness…
Thankful that I grew up in the time that I did, and for the education I received (Peterson Elementary, Von Steuben High, and Northeastern Illinois U.) It was a time when the “3 R’s” were emphasized in school, assiduously drilled into us by teachers who understood that these skills would stay with us for a lifetime, carry us far, make our lives easier, more productive, more enriched. The “3 R’s” were a mental Survival Kit. And those teachers were the stalwart scouts who guided us through.
I am thankful for my parents and grandparents, who put a premium on the art of writing. I could not have asked for more shining examples to follow. And I am thankful every day that I’ve inherited their DNA.
While we all may have arrived at it from different places and experiences, we can be thankful we’ve been lead to this point: that we can write. That we love to write. That we take great pride in the ability to write. And perhaps best of all, we can make a living at it. How lucky is that!
Whether it’s through our genes or Divinely bestowed – or both, to be able to write well is a gift. A gift, I believe, that we are duty-bound to give to others, whether it’s to entertain, to inform or, as many of us IWOC’ers know, to come to the rescue of businesses by offering them the writing services they “desperately need” to help them succeed. It is also a gift we are obliged to pass along in the form of teaching or mentoring. If schools aren’t doing it, then it is up to us.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we have many things to be thankful for. Possessing an ability that has been in demand since the first scribblings on a cave wall, is certainly one of them.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Write on!
- Laura Stigler
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