What happens when, for one reason or another, a person fails to think writing well is a necessary skill for success in life? The high school where I work gives me plenty of examples from which to gauge just how critical an intrinsic sense of the worth of writing is for people to become fully literate. I have students who have never read a book and see no reason to start reading literature. When these students are asked to write something… Well, as you can see, the results aren’t pretty.
There was once a girl names amy. Who like hello kitte. She like hello kitty because Beth liked hello kitty. So the when to the hello kitty store and but every single thing in the store that was hello kitte. When the when home to put every thing in there room. The notice the wore missing the hello kitty shoes. That the but for 236.96$. So The when back to the hello kitty store mad and pissed. The told the girl that was working there that the wore missing the hello kitty shoes the but. The lady asked for the receive. Amy got so mad she stared screaming at the lady. Beth told her to come down and gave the lady the receive. She saw that the wore right and she gave them the shoes. She also said sorry and gave them 2 new hello kitty lap tops. For Amy and Beth. Then Amy was like yea she better had gave use this lap tops. Beth just started laughing. Beth was happy cause the got the free lap tops The got home and got on them and told all there friends what had happen to them. The wore like dam…that’s cool. The wore happy. With all there new hello kitty stuff.
In Texas, students must pass the TAKS* test to earn their high school diploma and they must earn a 2 out of a possible 4 points on the essay. As willing as I am to invest the necessary time and energy in Beth that she requires, unless Beth herself wants to improve her writing skills, there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell she’ll pass the English portion of the exam.
What can we do?
I’m only a single person and there’s only so much that I can do. As passionate and excited about writing as I am, I only see my students for 45 minutes a day. Most of the progress I make in a class session is undone by the interaction my students have with family and friends who don’t value reading or writing. Fitting in with family and peers is far more important to most teenagers than is pleasing a teacher. There’s always the fear of being labeled a “teacher’s pet” and no kid wants that.
Even though I may not be able to do much, you can. You can help ensure the people close to you don’t end up in Beth’s position by being a role model for writing. I know it sounds dorky, but the attitudes we have towards literacy are more contagious than we know.
So if you have a friend or a family member who is struggling with writing, please don’t tease or belittle him or her. The damage your comment does could mean the difference between that person ever learning how to write well enough to pass high school.
*Soon the test will be renamed STAAR
Photo credit: Patrick Gage