Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm an Expert

Are Oregon high school students able to write well enough to pass the state writing test? Do writing skills even matter in the era of texting and tweeting? Oregon will require high school graduates to demonstrate their writing skills as part of the diploma requirements, starting with the class of 2013.

I was quoted several times in this article on the front page of today's Oregonian newspaper. Guess that makes me an expert!

It has been interesting to follow the comment thread below the article.

  • Some readers are shocked that writing skills haven't been part of the graduation requirements all along.
  • Some are scornful of the article and/or the author
  • Many voice the importance of being able to express oneself clearly through writing.

My favorite comment so far was this one:
"...I am a geologist. I apply math, chemistry, structural geology, stratigraphy, statistics, petrology, hydraulics, physics, and even microbiology (among other fields) to my work. But without the ability to clearly, effectively, and convincingly communicate my findings and opinions in writing, it would all be pointless. At the end of a project, it is my written report that documents what I have done, what I have found, and what it means to my client or to the population generally. 
"After more than 30 years in this field, if there is one thing I can point to that helped differentiate my work from that of less successful geologists, other scientists, or engineers with whom I have worked, it is the ability to write. Sure, you can be a weak writer and still find work in technical fields. You just won't be as successful at it. You won't be as sought out as your colleagues who can communicate more effectively in writing. And, over time, you won't be valued or compensated as highly.  
"Writing is a key skill. Learn it well, in combination with subject matter knowledge in any number of fields, and you will increase your chances of success by a substantial factor. 
"Alternatively, trying to navigate through a career with the handicap of poor writing ability is much like running a marathon while wearing a pair of ankle weights."

Finally, I just ran across this article the other day. The author, Kyle Wiens, is a business owner based in San Luis Obispo, the small-ish central California city where I grew up. He makes no apologies for requiring all of his employees to pass a grammar test before he will even interview them. I plan to share the article with my (remedial) senior writing students this fall.


Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

A good article. I couldn't find the comments. Oh well.

Glad you got the credit you deserve, for all your hard work!

Kathy Haynie said...

Thanks! I double-checked the link; the comments come up waaaaay at the very bottom of the article.

Polly @ Helping Little Hands said...

Way to go Mom! Eric made this weeks paper in Royal...but that's not nearly as flattering as your quotes on the front page of the Oregonian. (There's a picture of him giving directions on the first day of school.)