Writing Skills Not Valued


I was listening to the news today, which is always an adventure for me. There was a report on changes to the high school SAT, which is required by many colleges for admittance. These changes, taking effect in 2016, are to make the test more relevant and to make it easier to pass. Changes included the elimination of the essay portion of the exam, making it optional. Now maybe I am a little biased, as I am a writer, but this says to me that being able to write coherently and mechanically sound is not a needed skill. Then we wonder why we rank so low on the list globally regarding education.

Being a good writer, albeit good communicator, is important. I realize being a good writer does not measure intelligence and that many incredibly brilliant people are not necessarily good writers.  That does not mean we should not strive to master this area in some sort of capacity. I am always amazed at the atrocious writing skills I have seen in those who have master’s degrees and always wonder how they managed to get that degree as poorly as they wrote.

When it comes to jobs – pretty soon, other countries will have the ability to write English better than us – so those jobs will begin to be shipped overseas too. I do some contract copywriting for an internet marketing firm at times. When I was hired, the owner shared with me that the computer programmers and graphic designers he employed were in India. He had found he needed American writers, as it is difficult to find good writers of the English language in other countries. It seems the way we are going, we will outsource ourselves right out of those jobs, too.

I could go on. I have certain reservations about testing protocols, too. But that’s a story for another day. I just know that being able to write well is a valuable commodity, and lowering the standards isn’t going to accomplish what the “powers that be” are trying to accomplish. I don’t believe this is going to make our future leaders as globally competitive as they will need to be – thus, as a nation, we will fall further behind.

Did you know that cursive writing has been removed from the curriculum from many schools? Don’t get me started on that one . . . that’s a subject for another day!

Anyway, just something I was thinking about . . .

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26 thoughts on “Writing Skills Not Valued

    1. Thanks OM for re-blogging my post!!! Feels awesome to be “HarsHly Pressed!!” And if your cursive looks like Mandarin, that’s ok – that’s why cursive is an artistic and individual expression 🙂 Love your posts! Thanks for the inspiration ☮☮

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  1. Hi – I really appreciate your passion on all of this – and I too agree that cursive is valuable and think it should not be eliminated. I am also not sure as to “how” making the essay OPTIONAL will pan out!#!

    Like how do they score someone who DID take it vs. someone who did not?? Seems like it is impossible to have an equal test with only some opting to write.

    however, I do think the SAT was in need of help. Not sure if this will improve it – (?) -but it seems like the old one only targeted a certain skill set – and many brilliant ones were left off – which as you note about testing protocols -and all that. and so sometimes it seems to me that the grading of the written part was also too bias – I met a lady once who was a grader – and let’s just say that I would not want her grading my son’s exam -also, the only ones that do well on that exam are the ones who can “write fast” and present a legible, coherent paper within the allotted time – which leaves out many good writers who have a different style and personality mix.

    (and by the way, I heard that one reason the US may be lower on test scores is because we sometimes have more well rounded lives – not say we are less intelligent – but just maybe academics are not the only reflection of health – but then again, look at the obesity scores and well, um – forget it – but I did hear that sometimes “great test scores” might be the sign of rigidity and rat race function and it mistakenly gets viewed as superior for wrong reasons).

    anyhow, appreciated this post. 🙂
    ~y.

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    1. Hi Y. Prior – thanks for taking the time to read and comment! I believe good writing is such a subjective topic & like beauty, in the eye/mind of the reader – yes there are mechanics, but sometimes even those rules are made to be broken! I like your comment about having well-rounded lives . . . that may be a great topic to research for a future blog 😉 Hope you keep reading & commenting! Looking forward to checking out your blog as well ☮

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    1. Tienny – I agree, there is beauty in cursive writing. It is artistic and individual expression, maybe that’s why it is being phased out . . .
      Hope you continue to follow my blog, & I am looking forward to checking out your posts, too! ☮

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  2. I agree, the art of communicating be it verbal or written plays an important role in the day to day interaction required to move within our world. To reduce the skill of an entire generation to that of texting is not productive nor is it in any way a positive step forward. Being able to write on demand is a needed skill but it does not mean that each offering should be of Nobel Prize winning standard. It is merely important that when faced with selection criteria and job applications, not to mention university entrance papers and so on that a person is able to call up at least the ability to coherently address the topic and are able to make themselves understood to those reading it. Sadly much in this world is only considered one step at a time and this often leads to problems that could have been averted if someone had merely considered where actions led.

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    1. Jenni – Absolutely!! Thinking past the nose on one’s face and how decisions made will affect things in the future is often a second thought, if considered at all! Thanks for following, & I am looking forward to reading your posts, too! ☮

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  3. I agree that the skill of communicating and writing effectively is a necessary skill. The writing portion of the SAT was not originally part of the test; it was one of the optional tests. Colleges required only the Verbal and Math tests. Then they made it mandatory, perhaps to increase fees for the testing. Then again looking at a writing essay adds a human element, which increases their cost to administer. Bottom line is that education, like everything else, comes down to money.

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  4. I’m so with you on this – and on cursive writing! But it should be mentioned that good writers (both storytellers and English-y types) had a notoriously hard time scoring well on the writing section of the SAT. You had to stick to such a basic rote formula that poor writers who had simply memorized the taught form typically did better. So while I wish it had been replaced by a better evaluation of writing, I’m glad it’s gone (although that may just be old resentment over my essay score speaking.)

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    1. Hi Laurel – glad you enjoyed the post! I agree with you regarding the SAT – I am not a big fan of standardized testing, as I do not believe it measures or shows intelligence or knowledge per say. Being a good writer can be quite subjective! And I will probably have a post soon on cursive writing LOL! I am enjoying your posts, as well!

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    1. LAMarcom – RIGHT!!! I have had that experience, too. Not only did I wonder how they got their jobs, I wondered how they got their degrees, many higher than mine! Hope you continue to read my posts, & thanks for the comment 🙂

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  5. Totally with you on this one! To be blunt, I look down on people who can’t communicate using the written word. Actually, to be precise, I look down on people who don’t value the ability to communicate with the written word. Ignorance is correctable; disdain is a problem.

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    1. Absolutely agree with “ignorance is correctable; disdain is a problem.” I understand writing well may not be everyone’s strong suit, but at least make an effort to learn.

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  6. As the other post you wrote about China. It´s a hard solution, because it would mean higher paying jobs in the U.S which in turn will drive the prices of about almost everything and anything up. So in enters the U.S civilian population, they say do not outsource job´s, you´re killing American jobs. Fair enough, like in this post all these IT things goes to India, since it´s cheaper. So if people really wanted to have the jobs not outsourced you then have to be willing to pay for the same product double or triple, and then keep on spending in your daily life since the U.S economy is very much consumer driven. Can´t have it both ways, companies go where they can get money. No amount of regulations will ever change that, and if they see they can make a larger profit in the U.S then they will stay in the country. But it has to be the individual people, not the government, who is willing to sacrifice their hard earned money. Not an easy choice.

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    1. You are right, unfortunately, it is not an easy choice, often times because of greed. The media is constantly letting us know the huge profits companies are earning and the hefty bonuses company executives are given – and the disparity between those numbers and the wages they pay the people doing the work. Perfect example – one of the cable companies, Comcast, which is technically a monopoly in most of the areas it services, charges a considerable amount of money for it’s services. I pay about $180 a month for internet, cable and HBO. That’s just me . . .they have 100’s of 1000s of customers. They are trying to buy Time Warner Cable – which would make it the largest (and maybe the only, not sure don’t quote me on that one) cable company, I believe. I have talked to a few of their employees and they are paid horribly. Men installing these systems make about $12 an hour. But Comcast is making a fortune! Without these installers, they would have no business. I will tell you that I remember when cable TV & the internet was introduced, and it did not cost nearly what it costs now. My first cable experience cost me $15 a month, and many apartments back then offered it for free as an amenity. Now mind you, that was quite some time ago, but still . . . it’s mostly about GREED!

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      1. Greed is not bad I think, if it has a balance. But greed to make money, made for example the Rockefeller´s who where in charge of oil supply, railways to take good from one end of the country to the other in less time without the products rotting and people benefited. Same as Carnegie, He was managed to produce steel at larger quantities, in a less period of time,and at cheaper prices for customers. And what are buildings made off in the U.S? Steel. There are 3 more GP. Morgan and two others which I forgot. But these guys put not only their whole reputations on the line but also they´re own money. In more than one occasion they went nearly bankrupt, almost lost everything. But they had a vision, they had the guts to pursue it, the drive, and make money of course. Without them, the America that you know see it would never had been possible without the steel to make buildings, and for all kinds of other things, the oil for cars, everything has a downside to it, but overall they did make more good than bad. Regardless of what I think of them personally.

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  7. Forgot. About writing, I couldn´t agree more. Writing and communication classes. Both should go hand in hand in school at a young age. And also classes about how to be a mechanic, or some low paying jobs. The fact is that in most western nations we want the kids to grow up to earn good living, and they expect after their college years to do so. Which is what we should strive for. But at the end of the day if you have a nice car you will need the guy, the expert to do it a checkup, then people who know how to build bolts or seats, whatever else that goes into the car. You are rich and have a lot of garbage….then somebody has to dispose off it for you. And since we know life is not perfect, we should not frown upon those people who do these jobs, since at the end of the day they are crucial jobs for the society to function in a civilised manner, you need rich people, medium wage earners and then those who earn little. The more the medium earners the better, but it´s impossible for everyone to be in that category. There has to be those who don´t earn much and get by on pay check to pay check for the rest of society to function mostly at it´s best.

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    1. Hi Charly! There has been a bigger push in this country for people to attend community college or trade/technical schools, and for good reason, as the new trend is a shortage in labor in some of those areas. And some of these jobs pay pretty well – not like doctors and lawyers salaries, but nice living wages. I went to college, but my husband did not, he is a tradesman and works at the chemical plants. He has always made a higher hourly wage (even if it wasn’t by much) than I was capable of commanding, with the exception of two of my jobs. AND I agree, the person that empties the trash is just as important as the president of the company – kinda hard to work with trash overflowing and stinking, and no supplies in the bathroom – I know the last place I worked tried to cut costs and eliminate most of the janitorial staff. Don’t ask me what they were thinking, but that didn’t last long LOL! Every part of the “team” is important in my view. Oh & you mentioned mechanics a couple times – not sure what they make in Spain, but here – the local shops charge about $50-$70 an hour for labor and the dealerships are $110, unless you drive a luxury car, which I don’t, but pretty sure they charge even more. Meaning the mechanics are getting at least half of that if not more. That is considerably more than minimum wage in the U.S. Thanks again for reading & commenting on my musings!!

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  8. Interesting discussion. I was amused during a graduation ceremony at a large and well-respected Canadian university. The Commencement Address was given by a Canadian business icon who had not only started and sold over 10 high-tech businesses, but had worked to raise an absolutely unprecedented $10 billion for charities over his career. He was an alumnus of the university and had three university age sons himself. The graduation program listed this man’s accomplishments and the list went on for pages. And even better, he was an hilarious and acutely observant speaker. We were in for a treat. And so he announced his topic for the speech – the new admissions criteria for entrance to the same university. All three of his sons had applied and been accepted. The entrance requirements were so high and so strict that only a very few were chosen from among tens of thousands of applicants. He praised his sons highly for their intelligence, leadership, community service, participation, church activities, etc.

    And then he described his own entrance. He was from a disadvantaged family, he barely made the SAT’s, he was in constant trouble and almost got expelled from the program, he did as little as he could and his marks reflected that, and so on. He concluded his remarks by saying that if he had to meet today’s entrance standards, he would not have gotten into the university. And, of course, all the attending PhD’s and Profs and Deans and Administration, applauded loudly and nodded their heads at how wise they all were by making it so tough to get in.

    I sat there stunned that all these smart peoplle had missed the whole message – their entrance requirements were focussing with tunnel vision on the wrong criteria, and getting worse. The very kind of student they should be searching for- one like their guest speaker- would be barred entrance. I spoke for a minute with the speaker and told him I couldn’t understand how the university could be missing this. He just smiled and shrugged.

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  9. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based on the same topics you discuss and would really like to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my visitors would enjoy your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.

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