I was disturbed today. Perhaps it would be more accurate to admit that I was simply more disturbed than on other days. (I suspect I barely beat you to the punch on that one.)
Various things disturb me: the landscaper who makes unscheduled stops while missing most of the scheduled ones; the deer who have now eaten pretty much everything in the backyard except the stone bird bath, and it shows teeth marks along the rim; the young woman at the fast food drive-through who could neither take my order nor deliver it correctly; a peach with a bad spot, which is always a pity; a dust mote ... okay, now I am just being petty.
However, the specific thing that truly disturbed me occurred this morning, before I had even finished my first cup of tea. This is never a good way to begin the day.
The particular fly in my early morning ointment was this - an article in the Sacramento Bee. John Hechinger reported that in recent national academic testing, "nearly three quarters of eighth and twelfth graders" could not pass a standardized writing test, despite being allowed to use a computer to take the test and being allowed to use spellchecker.
As one might expect, he then decried the over all effects of tweeting, texting, and other shortcuts that our students currently use instead of learning to actually write.
They cannot spell (even with a spellchecker), they cannot punctuate, and heaven defend us if they ever were called upon to diagram a sentence (which goes a long way toward explaining why they cannot decently construct one either.)
I must be getting old if this comes as some sort of surprise to me. After all, I knew we were on the slippery slope to the intellectual waste lands the first time I heard "valley girl" speak. I mean, like, you know, it was like, really, like scary.
I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry, or do both. I distinctly recall deciding not to do either one; because if I do both, I always get the hiccups, which can last for hours. It just wasn't worth the risk.
There was, however, one tiny little bright spot in Mr. Hechinger's article. Unsurprisingly, studies show that "...students who wrote more often at home did better on the test."
And there you have it. Those of us who grew up keeping diaries, and journals, and making lists, and even just writing penmanship exercises somehow ended up actually learning how to write.
Can it come as any surprise that young people who grow up asking -
war r u?
mt me at 8?
Il b ther
misconstrue the above to be poetry, perhaps haiku?
Here is something even more frightening; often function follows form. Thus, the time may not be far off, if this revolting decline in the level of writing skills continues, when we will all be reduced to just pointing and grunting, as that is all we any longer know how to do.
And anyone who thinks that the engineers who keep the power grid up and running communicate by pointing and grunting had better think again, my friend. We could be looking at another dark age, and all because Susie couldn't be bothered to learn to spell, much less write .
Dear me, who would have guessed that those brilliant innovators who gave us laptops and tablets and e-readers would eventually lead to a society who will not even be able to turn the things on. How do I know this?
Because in order to operate such devices, one must be able to read and write! (Pointing and clicking notwithstanding.)
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Quite honestly, I had almost gotten past this morning's disturbance. However, in recounting it for you I have now ended my day nearly as disturbed as I began it.
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Hope you are influencing any young folks you know toward learning to take pleasure in the simple art of writing a note, without using the word "like".
Until next time .... you know, like, have a good evening.