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Teaching Writing in a Text-Message World

Writing is not going away.

In fact, writing is on the uptick!

A case can be made that writing is becoming our culture's dominant form of communication.
Email, text messages, tweets, and blog entries are all done in writing. Even on our electronic phones we do more texting than talking.

It's as though the old practice of letter-writing is now resurging.

Among friends and family an increasing percentage of our daily communication is done in writing. While not written with pen, they're actually written more permanently.

True, the length of our modern "letters" may be far shorter than letters used to be.

Also true, the quality of our written notes varies tremendously. And though many text messages and e-comments are sloppy and meaningless, nevertheless, our reliance on writing to communicate is huge.

Today, it's fair to say, we use writing more than speech to communicate who we are and what we're doing, thinking, and planning. We use electronically written words to think about and debate issues. We use electronic words to express thanks and gratefulness; to inspire, encourage, and apologize; to share memories and information; ask questions and ask for help; build and maintain friendships, make accusations, lose friendships, and then revive friendships.

How does all our electronic writing impact the need to teach children to write well? Teaching writing to children is just as important as ever. In today's electronic world, expressing who we are and what we think happens faster. Writing less, but more precisely, becomes our task.

Why is writing even a silly text message potentially so powerful?

> Writing persuades. (Great speeches are written and re-written before they're delivered. Even a simple text message is chosen, composed, and focused. It has potential to change the minds of millions.)

> Writing reveals. (Even a short message reveals the inner person. Many foolishly spout off. Others wisely inspire. We show ourselves either sloppy or sage.)

> Writing communicates more in less time. (How long can you listen? When it's in writing, you can skim and stake out what you need to read.)

> Writing remains. (Ancient writers knew their plays and speeches would outlive them. With the permanence of electronic media we are slowly realizing the same is true for our email, texts and tweets, they'll remain!)

Writing, and teaching writing, are here to stay.



Virginia Vagt is a writer, speaker, editor and 13-year veteran homeschooling mom.

1 comment to Teaching Writing in a Text-Message World

  • Hey, look I'm "writing" a comment.  Although I think there is something to be said about the slower method of hand writing something to allow us to put thought into our words.  In the old days it could take an entire paragraph and certainly a few sentences to express someone's feelings.  Now that style of writing is replaced by a winky emoticon.  😉

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