FROM THE SIMPSON/HEMSTEAD SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
From the government that brought you the oddly specific holidays of National White Cane Safety Day and Four Chaplains Day, welcome to the fold National Writing Day – celebrated on October 20th. Spearheaded by the National Council of Teachers of English, National Writing Day has been recognized as October 20th by the US Senate since 2009. It’s getting decent press; things are being tweeted by famous authors and moody teenagers about #whyIwrite; and this is all nice and lovely….
BUT (yes – there is always a but)
I’ve got a little bit of an issue with this pure, Cleaver-family style day of observance. Are you sitting down? Okay – let’s begin.
The website for the National Council of Teachers of English states in their “About” section of this holiday the following:
People in every walk of life, in every kind of work, and at every age write more than ever before for personal, professional, and civic purposes. They write through text messages and IMs, they use video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even traditional pen and paper.
Do you see the problem yet? I’ll give you a hint – it starts with “they” and is the whole last sentence of the above quote. Last time I checked, text messages and IMs (is that even a word now?) don’t qualify as my definition of writing. I don’t even know where to start to explain how wrong it is that NCTE can qualify “video cameras and cell phones” as writing.
Perhaps the NTCE’s vision of what the National Writing Day qualifies as the dictionary definition from Merriam-Webster, which the act of putting words together in the form of is written composition (I’m just ignoring the ridiculousness of video cameras and cell phones for a minute). But that’s not something I want my America celebrating – because it takes no skill or effort to achieve. Let’s shoot for the stars – in this case promoting coherent thoughts and proper grammar. Technology changes the game of writing, absolutely – but let’s at least attempt to hold onto standards as the tools available to people who think they can string words together levels the playing field.
Now, is this blog here a model of correct grammar and form? Of course not! But so long as blogging exists as a second-class citizen in the land of writing, an edit free void for first thoughts, we’re cool with getting our message to the people fast and free of quality control.
So hey, I have an idea? Let’s call this the last year where Mongo scrawling out a sext is considered writing. Let’s remind ourselves that written communication is one of the most elegant expressions of our cognitive power. Let’s work on an amended version of this holiday next year: “National Day of Learning to String a Coherent Sentence Together”.