Some of my followers know I used to be a teacher. Over the course of a 30-year career, I spent all but one year teaching at either the middle or high school levels. During that time, I taught Social Studies, Physical Education, Language Arts, Public Speaking, Career Planning, Health, and History. My four teaching credentials all served me well and by the time I retired, I can say I did pretty much anything I could have wanted while leaving with nothing else left unchecked on my teaching wish list.
My heart goes out to both teachers and parents who now have to navigate their way through this period of on-line education thanks to COVID-19. As a result, I have decided to give you folks a break and provide you a free lesson you can assign to your teenage son or daughter.
It’s a simple lesson. All they have to do is read the following essay I have included and go about correcting all the errors in it. You just need to give them the link to this page and ask them to rewrite what is on the screen correctly. When they are finished, you can cut and paste my mess to your word program which in turn should pop up most of my errors. It will not point out where a new paragraph should begin, but the major errors will pop up and you can use them to check your kid’s work.
Good Writing Matters
I get it. You do not think it is all that important to know how to right well in this day and age of texting tweeting and emojis. The future is not about wether or not you have a dangling participle or misplaced modifier because in your world, symbals have replaced letters all to often. Perhaps you will be right by the time you reach my present age of 61. However since you will be answering to a boss who most likely was taught the importance of being able to write well, you are going to have to learn to play by there rules. When you run the world, you can change the rules for a younger generation to resist or to think are lame. Maybe you try downplaying the importance of writing because you have decided you do not plan to go to college. Believe me, I have heard that excuse from countless students over the years. I usually ask them what they plan to do with their lifes and in that time, only one convinced me he might be right. In an essay, he told me his plan was to live life in his VW Van and travel the country. He wanted to take on odd jobs to pay for his gas and food. He even went so far as to tell me he only wanted to buy canned food and tear off the labels so every meal, would be a surprise for him andhe was going to be a free spirit with ties to no one and so he felt he had no reason to master writing Here is the kicker. He was already a master at writing. His essay was years ahead of his first semester freshman high school writing class. The other students who have tried tell ingme they did not need to know how to write well failed to understand there would be writing requirments for basic job applications. Some believed their dad would just hand over his business to him to run and it would simply run itself, A few even said they saw themselves spending their life in prison and were surprised they might want to learn to write well so they could appeal their sentence in a coherent manner. Writing does matter and the sooner you accept this, the sooner you can go about learning to write well. There are a few things you should keep in mind when you write Unless you have a job that requires you to write at a far superior level than most anyone can imagine, keep it simple. Use language your audience can relate to. Otherwise they will lose interest in what you have to say. If you can state something in one sentence instead of three or four, do so. Along the same line, one word is usually better than three or four. It is also important you keep in mind your paragraphs do not have to be a certain length. This idea that you have to write an essay for school where each paragraph has five or seven sentences is a joke. It usually results in you repeating the same information already covered or straying off topic. I have read well written paragraphs as short as one word and as long as three pages. Knowing how to express an opinion and supporting it with a logical argument matters. Your teacher does not mark you down, on an opinionated essay because they do not agree with your opinion even though this might be what you think or tell your parents. They want you to clearly state an opinion about the topic assigned and support it with an argument that makes sense. This requires thinking on the part of the writer. If you try telling your teacher you have no opinion on a topic assigned, you are really just telling them you are too lazy to think about it and formulate one. In some cases, this is difficult to do, but it is not impossible so think before you write. You also want too try too limit the use of the verb to be. If you are not sure what this is, ask your teacher to review it again or just google it. Instead, try using words that describe the act of something in order to bring it to life. The reader will be able to see what you are describing as if it were unfolding right before them as they read. Finally, before turning in an essay for grading, let it sit for a day or to and do not refer to it at that time. Clear your head of it and then go back and read it again out loud to yourself. If it does not flow well for you, it is not going to flow well for your teacher. Something is wrong with what you are saying and you need to correct it so it makes sense. You will also spot more spelling and technical errors tis way and can make the necessary corrections that might turn a paper that would otherwise receive a C grade into one that earns a high B or an A. This means you can’t put off completing a writing assignment until the last minute and expect to receive a good grade. Good writing takes time and it requires thought, logic, and a willingness to find your errors and correct them and these are not just qualities that make for a good writer, they make for a good student, good employee, and in general, a good person and this is why learning to write well matters and like most everything else you learn in school, there is a life application to it if you stop to think about it.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.