So who's right and who's wrong? Or, maybe, the more accurate question is, who's overreacting and who's not reacting strongly enough?
A Minnesota Public Radio story last week cited a survey that found social media has given students a new outlet for their writing. On the downside, however, the informal style and general sloppiness and shortcut-driven process that comes with texting and posting on Facebook, Snapchat or other social media avenues has reduced the quality of many students' writing. According to the story, it's caused many a teacher in Minnesota to warn their students when a writing assignment is given that if they use "text-speak" that features abbreviations and limited grammar and punctuation, they're going to take it on the chin at grading time.
The thinking here is...good. High-quality, productive, eloquent and even beautiful communication - writing, specifically – is an art form that's under siege. Anything that can be done to stem the tide is well worth the effort.
But, let's give some of these kids credit by not assuming all of them are turning in writing assignments with "OMG!!!" included at the end of every paragraph. In every generation, there are young people who simply love to write and, if the passion is there, more than likely so is the talent. Maybe those numbers are taking a dip these days because of all this grammar and punctuation-challenged texting and posting, but we can always count on a love of and talent for writing to survive until the next generation. Or is that wishful thinking?
Who knows? Maybe when radio was invented, teachers complained that kids didn't care about writing any longer because they were listening to shows on the radio all the time. Maybe when TVs became more common in living rooms across the country, teachers bemoaned less-distracted students of days gone by.
Or maybe not. Maybe the Internet and everything that has come with it – mostly in the way today's kids communicate non-stop with each other in a blur of fingers and thumbs tapping in rapid-fire fashion on smartphone and tablet touch-screens – is the biggest assault on quality writing in the history of invention.
But even if that's the case, what are we going to do? Turn back the clock by returning to the days of the No. 2 Trusty pencil and Mead notebook being the most important school supplies? LOL!!!
What teachers and parents need to do is stay in their kids' and students' faces on this topic by making sure that they know the manner in which they communicate 99 percent of the time with their friends isn't going to cut it when they have to write a paper on, for example, the decline of Western civilization.