I teach electronics for a trade. I also do electroincs for a trade. I associate with some of the most technically savvy people on the planet, many of whom, I'm sad to say, couldn't put a coherent English sentence together in print if their lives depended on it. I'm tryong to fix this.
I was reading a tribute to Steven Jobs in one of my countless electronics trade publications, and one oe fht most intriguing of thiese went into great detail about how broad Steve's education was. Although he was a college dropout (lke me, by the way), he was a highly self-educated man....in a huge array of fields...not just technology. During the Renaissance, he would have been known as a Renaissance Man....I don't know what he'd be called now. (Hmm, come to think of it, official Renaissance Men proabably weren't recongnized as such during their lives, either).
Steve was a great advocate of the Liberal Arts. Many of my fellow conservatives (I'm an OLDocon, by the way, not a Neocon), cringe at the very term Liberal Arts. I have to tell them to take a chill pill and then explain to them that LIBERAL in this sense has nothing to do with political persuasion. After the hyperventilation and palpitation dies down, I am finally able to convince them that it helps to be functionally literate AND technically competent in today's world. I'm not sure they're convinced.
"We need to get back to the Three R's!" they intone vociferously. After I remind them that neigher WRITING nor ARITHMETIC start with R, yet more hyperventilation and palpitation sets in. I've gotten pretty good at rolling my eyes.
Actually, I am a strong advocate of the Three R's, despite the aforementkioned illiterate alliteration. If the Three R's are really done right, the reuslts WILL be a solid Liiberal Arts education. Our problem is that we teach our kids that education ends when school is out. Those of us who've been around the block a few laps know that education BEGINS when school gets out....even if you get a Ph.D. We need to instill a love of learning in our kids.....and no governmental policy, no "No Child Left Behind" edict, can do this.
All of which brings us to the original topic. How do we make English FUN for the texting generation. It is possible to convince the lads and lasses who communicate primarily with digital grunts and scratches the importance of high literature?
I believe most attitudes and proclivities are caught rather than taught. My mom and dad were both highly literate, and it was obvious to me at the youngest age that they loved PLAYING with the English language. Dad was a punster without peer, in both English, German, and Yiddish (though he was a Gentile) .as well as an engineer of some renown. He always had a book in his face..Politically, he was a few fathoms to the right of Archie Bunker, but unlike Archie, he could coherently EXPLAIN why this was so. I want to crawl into a hole and pull the lid over it when I hear how most of the current breed of Neocons attempt to "explain" thier position. But that's another topic altogether.
My "kids" are for the most part consenting adults. I refer to my electronics students, of course.. Most of them come to class loathing the idea of having to actually WRITE something. I don't give multiple guess test questions. I give essay tests. I require my "lads and lasses" to EXPLAIN how they came up with the right answer. I am amazed at how many have never had to do this sort of thing.. Writing is CRUCIAL to critical thinking. Language is the currency of thought. (I wish I had come up with that quote myself, but someone beat me to it....I forgot who).
I'm still looking for the answer. Stay tuned
Causes Eric Nichols Supports
Free Burma Rangers, Partners Ministries (Thailand), Literacy council of Alaska, Access Alaska.