The Blame Game

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn an article published by NBC News, Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are madmany employers are claiming that prospective employees (new college graduates) are not proficient in writing. The writer, CNBC reporter Kelly Holland, explains that experts differ on the cause of the problem, but an executive vice president of Manpower, Inc., blames technology. Another expert blames colleges, and yet a third blames the secondary and middle schools.

While I concur wholeheartedly about the problem, I think the cause is much too broad for placing blame on any single thing. Blame is easy, and every stake holder seems to blame someone else. The work force blames colleges, which in turn blame the secondary schools, who then place blame on middle schools, elementary schools, and finally kindergarten. I have also heard parents blamed for not valuing their children’s education and for not teaching responsibility.

That hierarchy does not adequately hit the target, however. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but what if there is no specific blame except that a larger, more complicated world has pushed “writing skills” off the list of what matters most, and placed it over on the side with other, more immediate needs.

Today’s larger world of global connection, social networking, and rapid fire communication would be unrecognizable (and probably terrifying) to a visitor from the world of the past. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s can certainly understand this extreme change in the world. In the sense of how dramatically technology has changed our world, the Manpower executive is right. But think of all the other ways in which our world is now bigger and faster, how often we are pelted with images, messages, and information that may or may not be correct. It’s a changed world all the way around:  busy families who don’t even have time to eat dinner together, teachers who are spread too thin already, children who have commitments to teams, whether it’s sports or other arenas, and instant communication for all. There’s not enough time to revise or proofread even if you know how.

Young college graduates today are not excellent writers because learning how to write well takes time, patience and determination. The blame? Does it matter?

The important question is not who is to blame. The important question is what, if anything, can we do to fix it.

What do you think?

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Filed under Education, Writing

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