February 1st, 2012
10:10 AM ET

My View: Are electronic media making us less (or more) literate?

Courtesy Pomona College by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Kathleen Fitzpatrick is director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association.  She is the author of "Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy" and author of the blog Planned Obsolescence.

"U kno wat i mean?"

You might think that text messaging with a young person today would be enough to make an English professor scream - and particularly an English professor who now works for the Modern Language Association, that keeper of the rules of English style. The kids today can't write, you've surely heard it said, and new technologies are to blame.

I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom, though, and I'm the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association, and I don't agree with that popular wisdom for two reasons. First, the English language has never been a stable, fixed thing. English has been in a constant state of change over the course of centuries, and new communication technologies have always inspired playful inventiveness in their users.

And second, there isn't anything new in today's anxiety about the effects that new media forms will have on us. Plato reported in 360 B.C., for instance, that Socrates was concerned about the "forgetfulness" that the technology of writing would produce in the souls of those who learned it, and numerous scholars in the 15th and 16th centuries expressed worries about the changes that would result from the wide dissemination of texts made possible by print.

Writing certainly changed the ways that knowledge was shared, and print made possible its wide distribution, but no one today would say that writing or print made us less able to communicate effectively. Nonetheless, many people do assume today that technologies like text messaging and Facebook, which make communication so easy, are causing a deterioration in actual communication skills, especially among students.

Just as writing and print helped create changes in Western culture, new digital technologies are inevitably leading to new ways of communicating. But the popular claim that the rise of text messaging will lead to a decline in writing skills in the U.S. is probably exaggerated.

Part of the problem is that "writing" is still seen by many as "producing words on paper," just as "reading" may still be associated primarily with "books." Such equations run the risk of blinding us to what's actually happening in contemporary culture. Students today may read fewer printed books, but that doesn't mean "no one reads anymore." In fact, there are many more opportunities for reading today than there have ever been, more platforms and devices and formats and spaces in which we are all constantly engaged in the process of consuming and interpreting text.

Rather than producing a decline in writing (and in writing abilities), the spread of digital platforms and mobile devices has led to an explosion in opportunities for writing. These are the new opportunities that we're exploring at the Modern Language Association, as professors and students alike use these platforms for communicating with one another. Students today can publish blogs, exchange ideas with their friends using social networking systems and produce and distribute their own audio and video recordings, and they can respond to the things that their friends publish as well.

The challenge for all of us - students, parents and educators alike - is to understand that these modes of online writing with which so many people engage today are writing. Rather than dismissing these digital exchanges as silly or superficial, we should put them to work for us. It might turn out that these new forms provide important benefits for learning today. For instance, having students write blog posts instead of traditional research papers might raise the stakes of writing as a form of communication by providing students with an audience beyond the instructor. When more people can read and respond to a piece of writing, the writing takes on that much more importance.

The question of audience is paramount. Writing online can allow students to engage with many different audiences, leading to an understanding that the appropriateness of various modes of communication has as much to do with the audience that writing seeks to reach as it does with "correctness" in any narrow sense. The kinds of abbreviations and slang and, shall we say, creative spelling used in text-messaging with one's friends don't belong in formal presentations of research. This is not because those inventions are wrong, however, but because they're not taking audience into account.

Just as the English language has never been static, it has also never been singular: We all speak multiple “Englishes,” depending on the audience. The trick is to find ways to inspire today's students to put those multiple Englishes to work so that they can become as fluent as possible in the many modes of communication available today.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

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Filed under: At Home • Issues • Technology • Voices
soundoff (326 Responses)
  1. Conrad Shull

    That's OK, they couldn't write for the previous 20 years before the digital age.

    February 2, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  2. Phil Jordan

    I agree that "the spread of digital platforms" has indeed led to a plethora of opportunities for people to write. Unfortunately,most of what is expressed is opinion, written 'on the fly', frequently substantiated only by some unknown person's internet posting, and rife with grammatical errors and disregard for proper punctuation. As machines become smarter, perhaps it's inevitable that people will become dumber in terms of what (not how) they communicate, and so frequently that no one can hold (or contemplate) a thought for as little as one minute

    February 2, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  3. YANR

    "U kno wat i mean?"

    What's the k for?

    February 2, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  4. House

    Texting is short-hand writing for generation x, y, etc... Short hand writing is not a problem in the medical field or historically when secretary as a word is acceptable versus administrative assistant. Communication via texting is like lighting a fire and using smoke signals when a person can not be heard or seen.

    February 2, 2012 at 7:22 am |
  5. Kim

    I think this article is poorly written, both in content and regarding the rules of proper English.

    I tutor collegiate writing and from what I've seen and experienced, the quality of students' writing has suffered greatly over the past decade.

    Lastly, I was wondering if this article was referring to penmanship because my penmanship has become atrocious because I am always typing everthing on the computer. As they say, what you don't use, you lose.

    February 2, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • tomj

      This "writer" has proven the theory against which she argues. Her misuse of sentence structure, and it's importance in comunication of written ideas, shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about her subject. I first thought her article was intended to prove her point. I now believe it proves her ignorance.

      February 2, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Keith

      "I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom..."

      I've got – if it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.

      February 2, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Arthur

      This article does have some credence to it. Kids these days take the shorthand writing as if it is everyday writing. I think the English language as we know it will soon alter into into a different direction. I do agree on the penmanship point. I use to have nice penmanship, but with the advent of technology, it has suffered emensly. My own signature is horrible. I can't remember the last time I signed my name since I receive direct deposit and pay all bills online..

      February 2, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  6. Ken from FL

    Please keep this person away from our children. Blogging, etc, is not writing. As a college instructor, I am appalled by the inability of many of my students to communicate in a traditional manner. Does this writer share my students' apparent belief that being able to text will land them a good job? Good luck with that idea.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:18 am |
  7. james

    it's not just about writing, it's how we communicate. As technology advances we are losing inter personnel skills. We have more and more people who don't leave there homes, ever. They work from home on thier computer, shop, pay bills, buy consumer goods, even thier groceries. They can spend hours talking to someone on line or texting. however put them face to face with another live person and they can barly look up from the ground and mumble a few words.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • GAH

      AWFUL grammar and spelling.

      February 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  8. Jim

    The author of the article says, I've got nearly 20 years of experience. Shouldn't that be I have nearly 20 years experience?

    February 2, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Ken from FL

      Absolutely! As I say in my other post, do you really want this person teaching our youth how to communicate?

      February 2, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Ashley

      Wrong. 20 years' experience.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:40 am |
      • Ashley

        For the record, I think this is a fabulous piece. Everything she says is spot on; I teach writing at the college level, and this article shows an understanding of how language actually works, rather than the common misguided opinion that English is falling apart.

        February 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • SilentBoy741

      "20 years of experience in the classroom" probably means that she was left back a couple of grades.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  9. Tom

    "No child left behind" is a bigger problem than e-media.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • CDW

      Tom, I totally agree. I think 'NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND' is graduating illiterate students. How many times have you gone to a fast food restaurant, when you went to pay for your meal, (with the computers not working at the time) the clerk behind the counter can't count out change. You, an intelligent, educated individual would have to do it for them. Something needs to change. Get rid of all of those radical educators that DO have their heads buried in their a...., oops, I meant sand.

      February 2, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  10. Jo

    Not only can we not read or write anymore, we don't even really communicate. We can speak into a telephone, and have that converted to a text message, which we then send to the receiver. How ridiculous is that? We have stopped reading, writing and communicating by voice.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:33 am |
  11. Tom

    Until the people who score the state and national writing tests agree with her, we must continue to teach formal writing!

    February 2, 2012 at 5:31 am |
  12. soremoose

    Is the influence of technology really a factor in the decline of the reading and writing of the English language? I doubt it. In my lifetime, we have taken large, effective measures to tackle the problem of illiteracy. That people could not read or write at all was an even larger feature of society before the twentieth century. Today, at least in America, this problem is not nearly so widespread. So the question is this: Do we heckle technology as a means of dumbing the population down in terms of literacy, or do we celebrate the fact that more people than ever before actually attempt to be literate at all?

    February 2, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • bluesblood7

      Y'all ain't red Postman's book, has ya? In the most literal of senses, if you grasp what he wrote years ago, you will read it and weep... if you can.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  13. TampaMel

    When the telephone first appeared people thought it was the end of the world. The perception was, since we could call people no one would go out of their houses and no one would visit anyone and we would all die. This is also like the notion that EMAIL will cause the end of writing since, to those clueless people, writing using a keyboard is NOT REAL WRITING, one has o use a writing implement, I think they are called pens or pencils or something like that. Beside creating conveniences, technology creates moronic notions and venues for moronic articles like this one.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  14. Scooby Doo

    II think both the author of the article and the peanut gallery are missing a vital point, the reason why IM speak is used. IM speak is used to shorten words into as few letters as possible, mostly because of a lack of characters you can put into a text message. Really, IM speak is used to relay a quick message, and obviously grammar will suffer along with that.

    As a college student, I must say that every paper I've ever proofread for my fellow students has possessed some sort of acceptable grammatical syntax. Only the dumbest of the dumb (mostly jocks from my high school days) ever wrote scholastic papers in IM speak. So that goes back to a very basic point about learning in general, "Some people have better grammatical/writing skills than others."

    And on an unrelated note, if I see one more "This is the end of our country" comment on here I'm going to lose my mind. How paranoid can people be?

    February 2, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  15. perkz

    Seriously. If you can write in a way that engages your reader you can communicate your point; that is the point.

    I have yet to read something that moved me and thought: wow! Five paragraphs!

    February 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  16. Bill

    This is news to people? How deep has their head been buried in the sand?

    Though the thought of computers providing real education is pandemic, its a pathetic replacement for real hand done "reading, writing and arithmetic." Too often even the "educated" kids can't perform.

    Business people have been screaming this forever. How out of touch can the American public be?

    February 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  17. Judy

    No, she's just wrong. Check out a few gems I received this semester from 3rd year university students:

    "So mac was one of the big innervate of the 1980 that has pushed this world into what it is today without computers are life's would be a whole lot different. No Facebook none of that internet shopping online gaming etc. make was a major driving for that changed everything that are parents knew and how they did things today."

    "Cyberspace has grown to no end and everything that needs to be done or anything that needs to be found can be looked up or programmed through cyberspace."

    because of computer technologies, "people are mating in new ways."

    Oh, and I once had a student write something to the effect of 'because of telemedicine, Dr. Jeri Nielson was able to perform her own autopsy.'

    February 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Jayli

      I have seen many more shining examples of literacy while tutoring students at my college. We have free tutoring available to all of the students, however, the free tutoring is basically just a website that you mail your essay in for editing purposes. Students still pay me $50 to $100 just to go over their papers with them step by step. I think mostly this is because they are not getting the fundamentals growing up, or have forgotten the fundamentals by the time they hit college. I typically spend a lot of time going over elementary school information. Most of the students at my university can't actually tell you the difference between a verb and a noun. I think that if we continued to review the fundamentals in high school it would help solve a lot of these issues. We really just need to keep pushing for better support for our teachers and education system.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Megan

      I teach academic writing at the collegiate level. Nothing about your students' writing says to me that technology is destroying the English language. What those samples say is that students submitted their work without revising – probably because they're tired college students who didn't give a crap about the assignment.

      Also, the fact that YOU posted your students' writing on the internet for strangers to make fun of them tells me what kind of a teacher you are. I hope you made those samples up or that, at least, none of those students see their writing online – this is highly unethical and illegal.

      February 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  18. SUniversity

    I hope people know that there are kids who text in full, complete sentences using punctuation and everything! I know, it's crazy! There's still hope

    February 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  19. outawork

    They can't read either.

    February 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  20. Stephen Green

    Tweets and text messaging are not part of the process whereby language evolves over time. These communication forms are nothing but pandering to the dumbing down of education and language skills to a level that is fit for a teenager, if that. I find it hard to believe someone with this person's credentials could speak of this communication mode in such a benign manner.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • twmaple

      Exactly. It sounds as though she is being paid to advocate for technology.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  21. deaneasy

    You're opinion died at "got". Sorry.

    February 1, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • deaneasy

      And mine died at "you're".

      February 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • JustTrustMe

        NO DOUBT!!!
        Best post of the day....

        February 1, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Uthor

      You shouldn't be so hard on people who say or write "I've got." Many speakers of English say this very often. That makes the construction a solid part of the English language. Usage is law.

      It's petty and disingenuous to sigh and toss your flighty little head over such things. There are rules of Latin that some school-marmish stuffed shirts stand up for (don't end a sentence with a preposition, don't start a sentence with "and or "but").

      They are wrong–and more clownish than those who they self-righteously scold. English is a Germanic language. There are plenty of Latinate words because of court languages (French, after the Normans conquered England), but the heart of the language is Germanic. The core language is good and short and to the point.

      God save us from English Nazis.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • Bruce

        Save us from the English Collectivists. P.S. These are the most literate posts I've ever readed.

        February 2, 2012 at 1:22 am |
      • JS

        The use of "I've got" is a colloquialism appropriate to the chatty tone of an internet opinion post. Writers often intentionally use grammatically incorrect constructions for the sake of humour or to convey a conversational or informal tone. I doubt this writer would use "I've got" in a scholarly article or even a business letter.

        February 2, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  22. Jon

    Hucked on fonix wurked fer me!!!

    February 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Rick

      LOL. Hay, Jon, eye no jest watt ewe ore saying!

      February 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  23. Jon

    Roughly HALF the English speakers in the world today are non-native speakers. HALF! There are more people learning English in China than there are people in the British Isles. If you think this won't change our mother tongue, think again. Who is going to tell that many people that their dialect of our language is "incorrect"?

    February 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  24. Uthor

    A wise man once said this about language, "Usage is law." English may be written to echo the way people use it when they speak.

    Writing is a craft. Some chose to learn the craft; others do not. It's a choice.

    The craft of writing can be useful for full competence at some jobs. Other jobs do not require writing. The kind of job you hold is also a choice.

    Writing skills also serve as a social class marker. As it is said, you know it when you see it.

    But no one needs to learn to write well if they don't want to write well.

    It can be hard work. The best lesson is: Use the shortest possible words–and say just what you mean. Writing is the road between one mind and another; it is the path that ideas travel on.

    February 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Merlin

      Really? I believe the question posed was with regard to electronic media and its negative influence on literacy. I see many examples of how text messaging "shorthand" creates misspelled words, abbreviated sentences and words utilized incorrectly. (They're as their or there; too as to and so on.) The devices themselves are part of the problem. The time spent on organizing thoughts into words contributes significantly, as well. Over the past ten years, we've created a generation of people who can download useless applications yet they have difficulty comprehending the concept of a fan belt. As the advances in technology increase, the progress of humanity itself remains unchanged for the past two thousand years. Are we learning yet?

      February 1, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
      • Literate

        Really? "We've created a generation of people" who don't know grammar or understand fan belts? I would argue that the types of people who use improper grammer or don't understand mechanical components would do so regardless of whether or not there were electronic devices. I am a college student, and all of my friends text using correct grammar and punctuation. They will use commonly accepted abbreviations to make typing shorter, but the only "texting shorthand" they use is "LOL." All of them would be fully capable of writing a coherent and well thought out essay. The problem here isn't technology. It's the students themselves, along with the guidance or lack thereof from parents and teachers.

        February 2, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Uthor

      Times change, Merlin. Time spent mourning is time not spent living.

      There will always be people who care about writing. And a larger number of people have not. That isn't anything new.

      Before "electronic media" this same charge was leveled at television. Previous to that, some said this of comic books.

      It is a fabricated issue.

      Read and write if you like to read and write. Make money by it if you can. Who knows? The craft might become increasingly valuable.

      February 1, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  25. ciamango

    Although, Through, Enough, Trough. OUGH with 4 different sounds. That's just one example of the lack of correspondence between spelling and pronunciation. You also have weigh, whey, leap, great, ear, heart etc etc. Who decided English should be like this? Texting would be a lot more accurate if the English language wasn't so effed up.

    February 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  26. Lost


    February 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  27. Stubby

    The point of writing is to pass a message or convey an idea. As long as that process is unhindered, I tend to believe that grammar, spelling, and punctuation matters little. Often it is the pretentiousness of the recipients of communications, who wrongly equate writing "mistakes" to a dearth of knowledge and reason on the part of the message sender, that is far more problematic.

    February 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • John

      Interesting (yet disingenuous) coming from someone who obviously takes great care in selecting his big, multisyllabic words and making sure that each sentence is properly punctuated.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Neil

      I used to think the same Stubby but when you grow up and start having deep discussions/debates with people, you realize lacking the words to convey your point while other side comes out top only because he could speak. Grammer and vocabulary are very important! Teens may continue this new age language but they must learn grammer and vocabulary. In fact, this author's views are incorrect. Learning two languages makes people smart. 🙂

      February 1, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
      • Diana150


        February 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  28. silvereagle

    We now have a nation of people that print and can't spell.After the 3rd grade cursive writing is not taught anymore.fact!

    February 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • PS

      Easy job for lazy teachers!

      February 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
      • Bane of Trout

        Really? You're going to blame teachers for the demise of cursive? Did it occur to you that teachers teach to STANDARDS CREATED BY STATE AND DISTRICT BOARDS, not to whatever whims we see fit?

        I came to teaching after a career in corporate Internet retail, and I guarantee teaching is harder. Stop blaming all teachers (and yes, there are some lame teachers) for education's problems.

        February 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Olympian Treasures

      One advantage [chuckle] - We older people will be able to write secret messages in cursive. Young people won't be able to read them.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  29. CH

    I believe that the use of electronic media is making us less literate. I was once a stickler for spelling, but now, I find myself having trouble typing and writing because of the way I text, trying to fit in 160 characters in one message. I've noticed that people are dependent on spell check, a tool which I rarely use. Examples: one time, a friend of mine was on facebook and said her spell check was not working. She continued to post messages, which revealed her poor spelling and grammar. God bless her heart. An acquaintance of mine was advertising his graphic design services on facebook. He does "quality and proffessional" work...yes, he spelled it just like that. I know it wasn't an accident because he did it again on a different ad. I wanted to send him a private message but my husband said to let it be. Poor kid. Let's not get started on emails from work!

    When I was in elementary school, my teachers would make me write essays, stories, plays, etc. I wrote until my fingers were numb. If there were too many white-out spots, I'd write it again to make it look nice. I did not own a computer until I was 21 ( I'm only 31 right now, mind you). Computers and cell phones were not big back then. The internet age did not blow up until I was at least 18. Just a quick story for kicks...my co-worker's 17-year-old son discovered the telephone busy signal for the first time. He said, "Mom, I don't know what's wrong with the phone. It keeps beeping." Ahhh, technology.

    February 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • justmeopinion

      I agree. And the sad thing is, when I see a business advertisement with misspelling, I will hesitate to do business with them. Poor spelling can reflect badly on a person, both personally and professionally. It perpetuates the idea that perhaps they aren't as knowledgeable (or intelligent) as someone else in the same business. This may not make a difference to someone who can't spell well, but it does to one who can. Proper grammar and spelling tend to tell me that a person knows what they are doing, and has the education and intelligence to do it well. I'm sorry, but that is the way things tend to be.
      As for conversation, you are spot on. Even while writing this, I know there is a better way to write it, but I can't think of it right now. And that is possibly because I don't engage enough in grammatically correct conversation to practice it, therefore I am losing it. Can you imagine if people published books without editing? I am thankful that books are edited, so at least I can read correct grammar and sentence structuring and learn it that way. Can you imagine if our editors lose this ability? I am also wondering what it will be like 50 or 100 years from now, and what people will think looking back – did we really progress, or did we regress literally speaking?
      Those who speak better English and can write correctly, tend to get better paying jobs. Not always, but usually. If I were hiring, how the the job application was written would speak volumes to me. Did they get a quality education? Did they pay attention in school and learn proper grammar? Or did they just slide by? This also tells me how they may approach their job. With care and diligence, or with sloppiness? Will they be able to understand instruction and communicate their ideas and instructions to others well? While one may do an excellent job physically, their writing and communication ability is like giving a first impression of yourself. What kind of impression do you want to leave with a potential employer?
      How you speak and write can speak volumes about much more than just your handwriting.
      PS: My mother was a stickler for correct usage of words, pronunciation, and correct sentence structure. I used to resent it, but now I am thankful. I wish I had kept up the practice, because whoever said 'use it or lose it', is right.

      February 2, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  30. John

    She is correct and completely wrong at the same time. As long as her fellow professors in other departments expect term papers and other writings of traditional type, she is wrong. She is also wrong, because businesses continue to be run by people who expect reports in a traditional format. Given when all of these people are dead, she will be completely right, in her case, probably Dead Right.

    February 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • PS

      But all that is changing! She is right because not many professors or businesses want traditional writing or bookkeeping. Our kids went through years without really developing a set handwriting or having to produce traditional written papers. They know how to "edit" and submit "e-copy" of their "writing. We are not talking about the surviving dinosaurs that happen to keep the art of writing alive. We are talking about the future and current changes in society.

      February 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  31. fred

    What a silly article. To think she's been in teaching for so long is frightening. Notice she didn't use any IM speak in the body of her article. Why? Nobody would have used it and she wouldn't have got paid. QED

    February 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • John

      Fred, your nearly unintelligible post could stand as the lone evidence to back everything this writer is claiming in her article.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  32. MikeyZ

    "The ratio of literacy to illiteracy Is a constant, but nowadays the illiterates can read."

    –Alberto Moravia

    February 1, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  33. txpatriot

    Twenty years as an English professor? I wonder how well her students learned English under her tutelage? It would be interesting to see how well they can write a resume or cover letter. I wonder if "U kno wat i mean?" and a history of blog posts will get them a job with a typical corporation today?

    February 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Andrew Thall

      What is being discussed here is the difference between linguistics and grammar. Grammarians are extreamly conservative and adopt changes to the language only after great debate and consideration. Linguists look at language as a living, changing thing. There is a natural conflict between the two camps. From the linguist's point of view, thereis no "right or wrong" - only the observation of what is happening to the language.

      February 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Just me

      Did you actually read past the first sentence to find out what the article is really about? "U kno wat i mean?"

      February 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  34. Scott

    Correct grammar and usage are going out the window in certain circles, and it is transferring to the written word. It is becoming a common joke/complaint from interviewers that resumes submitted by the "younger crowd" commonly contain "IM speak". The whole idea of acceptable boundaries in style is being challenged. I guess it's the new Ebonics. G'day all!

    February 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  35. enkephalin07

    I think you're confusing the medium and the message (and the McLuhan reference should make you cringe,) but neither the new formats available for expression and publication nor the dialect of convenience that's arisen are threatening literacy or writing. There will always be users who demonstrate their level of intellect and education with text similar to your opening example. This doesn't indicate the decline of literacy; those people have always been around, but now they identify themselves more obnoxiously.

    February 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  36. Travis McGee

    You lost me at "I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom...". I've got? Really? That's horrendous grammar in itself.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • English Teacher

      I thought the same thing, Travis!! At first I thought it was some clever way of proving that kids cannot write, but I was wrong.

      February 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • SimScholar

      Has anyone bothered to consult the literature on English syntax? If you do, you'll see that "have got" can be used as an intensifier. It isn't an instance of incorrect usage; it's a syntactic choice. I found many grammatical errors in the posts criticizing the author. As the (popular) expression goes, "if you spot it, you've got it!" Oh, and please tell Old Blue Eyes that the song is "I Have You Under My Skin."

      February 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
      • JS

        Oh, and please mention to Ira Gershwin that "I Have Rhythm!"

        February 2, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • John

      Wow. While her usage here is informal, it is entirely acceptable. Time for someone to put away the keyboard and take a Remedial English course.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  37. Bill

    It's not just the kids. View almost any comments section on Yahoo or CNN and you'll find poor grammar.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  38. Abby

    Spelling may be a subject of nitpicking. However,those who text are using a kind of conversational writing which has little resemblance to well written English.It would not be a problem if those who were text messaging spent as much time practicing correct language usage, but they don't. I applaud the 13 year old who makes a concerted effort to use correct grammar while on the computer. As a teacher, I strongly encourage my elementary students to always use correct grammar when ever they use a keyboard of any kind.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Attila the Hungry

      "As a teacher, I strongly encourage my elementary students to always use correct grammar when ever they use a keyboard of any kind."

      I applaud the thought, but I feel obligated to point out that "whenever" is one word, not two. I hope that your lessons are not subject to such grammatical lapses. Today's students have a hard enough time as it is without being exposed to such errors in the classroom, however minor one might consider such errors to be.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
      • Aaron

        Please do not take offense at my correction. "Whenever" is actually a valid word. I could explain why in grammar terms and historical context, however it is just easier to type it into a word processing program and see if you get corrected by the electronic editor. Check it out.

        February 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
      • Aaron

        Ignore my last comment. I thought you were saying the opposite. Perhaps it is our reading skills that are degrading. 🙂

        February 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
      • Diana150

        And "13 year old" should have a hyphen...

        February 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  39. louis p

    I would tend to agree with this article...I've witness the gradual deterioration of my oldest child-15 yrs. old on writing skills and that of his peers. His spelling is very very bad. He and his buddies writes in texting form and the school district tolerated it.
    His speech is even worse...he and his friends speaks what I call MUMBLESE..burst of short words and sounds more like grunts!
    It's sad that we live in a country-USA where there are no official language and the new generation can't seemed to speak or write clearly...how are we going to communicate with each oter in the future?

    February 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Don

      Did you know you made 20 errors in a 105-word note? Maybe you're being ironic, but I don't see it.

      February 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Stubby

      Like you Louis? For one who criticizes the writing of others, your grammar is atrocious.

      February 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • JustTrustMe


      Making a mistake or two is not a big deal.
      We all do it.
      But, wow!
      That was awful to read.

      (Beating my head against the keyboard.)

      February 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  40. Paul

    The issue isn't technology but those who rely on it alone in order to express and sustain themselves.

    February 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  41. Dan Bednarik

    XBOX, Facebook, smart phones (an oxymoron) - it will be the end of our kids for sure. What happened to playing outside with friends, sitting by a campfire, the things that really matter? Sure, there are educational advantages if these devices are used with some discipline. They are not. I sat in a school auditorium for an event and watched several young girls seated in front of me. They must have checked their text or emails every 2 minutes. This is very sad.. no different from smoking crack in my opinion.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Ethernet

      BS Its just evolution of the language. Evolve with it or have your socials skills die. You will be the only one not being understood.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
      • Justin

        You obviously will live among the Eloi in the future. We Morlocks look forward to feasting on your kind.

        February 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Clay

      What happened? Our parents happened. All of the sudden, everyone was afraid their kid was going to get kidnapped. Terrified that they might get hooked on drugs. Horrified by the fact that their kid might *GASP* be hurt! What ever would your beautiful, unique, precious, delicate snowflake do if they ever suffered ANY bodily harm?! Somehow, the generation that lived in total excess and complete freedom became the most overbearing, overprotective generation to ever raise children.

      I could go on to talk about how your generation has degraded fathers and emasculated the American male, or how you've engrained every woman to think that every man is a potential rapist, but this isn't the time or place.

      And forget campfires, open flames are dangerous.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  42. Eric

    Okay, as much as I detest the abbreviated texting/tweeting language formats, I will acknowledge that language changes. HOWEVER...comprehension and communication only really occurs when there is a standard of format in word and sentence structure. So, pick one, standardize it, and thereby assure that the intent and nuances of your 'writing' is actually understood. Otherwise, your tweeting will make you look like a twit.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  43. CNN is lame

    Does CNN hires high school drop out journalist?

    February 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Phil

      Yeah, they pay me $3 in quarters for every story I make up.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Phil

      Yeah, they pay me $3 in quarters for every story I fabricate.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • xMrBunglex

      Could you fail any harder?

      February 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • ryan

        You probalby could fail harder.That's what they call an epic fail.

        February 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  44. shane

    i think it would just be alot easier to us a computer

    February 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  45. Amelia

    Okay, I am going to weigh in here with the heavyweights, the good old-fashioned English teachers (of which, I must admit, I am one). I agree that digital culture and communications do not mean the end of communication per se. I agree that digital media have made it possible for more people to share ideas. Yet I worry what we are losing. And this, I think, is a very important consideration. As I see it, what is generally more lacking is the ability of folks to formulate clear thoughts and express them in words. There is a certain discipline necessary to write an essay of any kind, in which the sequence of thoughts has a flow that is not arbitrary. In a way, taking the time to formulate thoughts clearly before communicating them is a sign of respect for the recipient/audience. What I see a lot on digital media are snippets, incomplete thoughts, wisps of meaning not always tied together to make a sensible or significantloy meaningful whole. The difficulty, as I see it, is that there is currently little clear differentiation in the online world between the more haphazard say/text-as-you-go type of communication and those that would like to be taken more seriously. And in young people, I do see a decreased attention span in general, along with the digital craze. Somehow, I do think our young people/citizens should have some kind of forum in which protracted exercises in clear thinking and expressing are practiced. Yes, it is not necessary that everyone is able to defend an arguement about Shakespeare's texts. However, I think we deserve to teach our students the process of formulating sequences of thought clearly and expressing them in a way that makes sense to others. There is a role for the essay-assigning phenomena. It is this latter capacity to formulate thoughts clearly that I see rapidly declining in each generation of students.
    I do agree that there is a place in school for students to become digitally adept, to share ideas and work. I do this in my classes every semester. But I require a basic element of rigor in their writing that is either the same as or similar to that required in an essay format, for example.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • gino

      The dumbing down of America continues apace...

      February 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Colin

      "What I see a lot on digital media are snippets, incomplete thoughts, wisps of meaning not always tied together to make a sensible or significantloy meaningful whole."

      So a modern take on stream of consciousness narrative?

      February 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Thank you

      Thank you for writing such a well worded and thoughtful statement. It is not often that I see that combination in this comment section. Quite refreshing and much appreciated.

      February 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
      • Total Agreement

        You could not have made a more accurate comment. I know my former teachers are spinning in their graves.

        February 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Balto Girl

      Thank you Amelia. Wonderfully said. Unfortunately, the truncated attention span of those who would benefit from your comments kept them from getting past the second sentence.

      February 1, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • john


      I am not an English teacher, though I do love literature.

      Clear thinking and the articulation of thought is certainly waning in this nation.

      Logic can be fostered in many forms (thought, mathematics, riddles, shapes and images), expressly in writing.

      February 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  46. Justin

    MLA is garbage. What do the authors of the Chicago Manual of Style say?

    February 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Diana150

      That was funny.

      February 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  47. Kevin

    I'm twenty-one, and (to my knowledge) have not yet fallen victim to the plague of poor grammar and spelling. I agree that there's a lot of text lingo among today's youth, but I think that using "textspeak" is different from writing poorly.

    Writing poorly seems endemic to the culture at large. I don't care too much if someone spells something right (although it IS nice), but it's amazing how much writing that I see is simply incoherent or doesn't make any structural sense. The thing is, I'm not so sure it's new. I obviously lack the perspective of an older individual in this matter, but my coming-of-age realization was that people don't magically get more intelligent once they hit eighteen, and that it's easy to ridicule a younger generation without performing any sort of analysis on one's own.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Kaleb

      Bingo. In addition to that, every generation loves to believe that they are the "Golden" generation and that the following generation will be the downfall of society. "Things were way better when I was a kid, these children will never understand what it's like to have a true childhood." Now, don't go listening to that Elvis man with his suggestive moves, he'll ruin society!! Get over yourselves...

      February 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  48. Chelsea

    I think real schools are better. It gives kids a chance to interact with others. If you did virtual school it might get lonely.

    February 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  49. Evan

    I received my degree in PR this past summer, and I currently work for my alma-mater. In my role, I communicate with a number of professors from different colleges on campus–as well as other professionals in the area. I've found that it's not just the tech-savvy students that display poor writing, but it's everyone. If anything, students are more aware of the actual "rules" than their professional counterparts because they've studied those nuances recently. Co-workers, clients, applicants for employment, and everyone else illustrate their inability to write correctly all the time. It's unfair to pin this allegation on only the younger, more-plugged-in (or wireless rather) generation.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  50. Robert K. Blechman

    "writers" – sorry about that. Hasty posting also has limitations.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  51. Robert K. Blechman

    As the author of a recently published novel, Executive Severance, that was composed entirely in Twitter, that is , 140 characters at a time, I am in agreement with Ms. Fitzpatrick. Any new medium of communication brings its own limitations and its own biases. Writer's have always found ways to overcome the former and exploit the latter. Rather than concentrating on all the dross issued by means of the new social media, let's look for the gold.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Justin

      Good luck with that. You're going to find less gold than the Hoffman crew at Porcupine Creek.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
      • Bill Duke

        Good one Justin!

        February 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  52. Jack M

    Without reading all this drivel the author may or may not have made the same point. Kids are more articulate in expressing themselves through writing but lack the traditional grammar and spelling that English teachers make a big deal out of.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  53. Eric W

    In my opinion, I do not spell as well as I used to. I think this is due to computers fixing all my spelling errors. This may sound silly but I noticed it when I got a new smartphone with the SWYPE keyboard. If you haven't SWYPE before, you probably will have no idea what I am talking about but using SWYPE requires better spelling skills. When you make mistakes, it thinks you are trying spell a totally different word as opposed to correcting your spelling errors. Anyone else notice this?

    February 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  54. Tom

    Wow! Is she Queen of the Land of Idiocracy? She can't write a proper sentence ("I've got. . ."), but is in charge of maintaining the standards for the English language? Why doesn't she just add "mo-fo" to the end of each sentence. Frightening!

    February 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      I don't think you know what you're talking about, yo.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Justin

      President Camacho totally agrees with you, Kathleen.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • John

      Nothing more entertaining (and pathetic) than an idiot who piously and incorrectly challenges another person's writing skills.

      February 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  55. Katherine

    As a teacher and former researcher, I feel that writing researched papers is essential to the development of critical thinking in students. It encourages them to think for themselves about something other than themselves.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      I agree, and the same could be said of online writing, especially when spurred by instructors familiar with digital technologies.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Fiddledee

      But does it always have to be a 15 page printed paper in MLA or APA format? I feel that many well-researched bloggers accomplish the same sort of things in their blog posts [proper introduction of the topic, supporting statements, links to .edu and .gov websites that provided the information used, and a well-rounded conclusion]. Formatting is stupid, and the bane of many students' existence. It's hard to make the borders correct to the millimeter on anything other than Microsoft Word, which one has to either pirate or pay $250 for in a suite package. For most of the papers I've written, making sure it was in the perfect MLA format and having perfect five paragraph supporting statements took up most of the time on my papers. I couldn't mold the structure of the paper around my research or argument, I had to mold my research and arguments around the structure of the paper.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  56. David

    I think that it depends on the person teaching and not so much the media itself. I have seen a difference in how people will write compared to the school and teachers they have. Both knew the same amount of stuff, they just said it in different ways.

    February 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Kyser

      This sounds like the rant of an Anti-social English teacher. Ask her about Dynamic Physics and let’s see if she can put it into words that are coherent. Language arts are just as much as a developed skill set as Social Studies, History, Math, and science, but one with such rules that are stringent and make little practical sense because their made up by century’s old methods of getting a point across. Now, If I can explain "Hey, how are you?" just as much as "Hey! How r U?" it's so vastly different someone’s head explodes? Please.....writing isn't that damn important. Obviously people posting here also boast of literacy, but let’s look at an example post......


      I do not believe that the kids today have any kind of literacy. But I do not believe it is the technology that is to blame. Teachers and parents are to blame. Parents for allowing kids to do homework on the computer rather than the old fashioned way. It is a shame that a high school student can not even write or do math. I have students in my store all the time that can not even figure out that a yard is 36 inches, or 3 feet equal 1 yard. It is really sad. "

      Hmmmm..........where's the red pen here? I really don't care as there are more important things to worry about rather than being a spelling, grammar, and punctuation Nazi.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      Exactly. Writing is dependent on context and audience.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  57. problem with the author

    I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom, though, and I'm the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association, and I don't agree with that popular wisdom for two reasons

    I find the above sentence interesting – the author is trying to inform the reader of the decline in writing skills among students, yet can't write properly herself.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • John

      very nice 🙂

      February 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Marc

      I thought exactly the same thing! Glad you pointed it out.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • David

      Judging correctness depends on the style and level. As a historian, I use the Chicago Manual of Style and Elements of Style. Those sources judge the use of contractions in formal writing to be wrong. Writing an OpEd piece in media puts it in the realm of the AP Style Manual. By that standard, Dr. Fitzpatrick is writing properly.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
      • Cynic

        Who's talking about contractions? I'm talking about run-on sentences!

        February 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Cynic

      Exactly! She displays the art of the run-on sentence.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Agreed!

      "I've got?" Ugh, it makes my skin crawl.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
      • JS

        I've got rhythm!
        I've got music!
        I've got my girl! Who could ask for anything more?

        I've got daisies, in green pastures.
        I've got a crush on you, sweetie pie.

        I've got the sun in the morning.
        I've got you under my skin.
        I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts!

        I've got life!

        February 2, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • Melissa

      Thought the exact same thing.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      Actually, that sentence is syntactical and grammatical correct. So, I really don't know what you read.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
      • gotacomment

        That sentence is "syntactically and grammatically" correct. Tse the adverbial form in this contect.

        February 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  58. RR&R

    Before writing, story-telling passed infomation down to each generation. Plato understood "creative license" and worried that writing would create opportunities to change that information. That's very different.

    I started worrying about technology dumbing down the population with the introduction of calculators into math classes twenty years ago. Now, cashiers can't subtract to give you correct change without a computerized register!

    Computers offer checks on spelling and grammar. Texting encourages sloppiness. High school graduates can't read or write!

    The more we depend on technology, the less we have to rely on our brains. When the technology is no longer available, we're in trouble.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  59. Chris

    I hav a big bnr aftr listnin 2 u. y wld u say such hrbl thngs?

    February 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • What, Me Worry?

      Why write? It'll all be video soon with avatars that just use OMG and Shuuuut-uuuuuupp like caricature Canadians ending every sentence with EH?!

      February 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • TomFoolery

      If today's youths fail cannot tell the difference between formal and informal, written communication, then their teachers and professors have failed to properly instruct them!

      February 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
      • Cynic

        Exactly! These are probably the same youths who go to a job interview wearing a "Divers do it deeper" t-shirt, or go to church wearing a halter top and exposing a belly button.

        Young people, as well as old, have to learn that there is an appropriate time for everything.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Cynic

      Just what are you trying to say? Can you please say it in English?

      February 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  60. sava


    has anybody asked the question: "WHAT are they communicating?"

    Kathleen clearly notes that we should keep the audience in mind and aim to help students learn how to communicate through different media for these different audiences. the emphasis should be on showing them how to be sensitive to the norms of particular platforms, understand the expectations of the audience, and use that to their advantage.

    I'm not going to pretend that some grammar and spelling choices don't bug me or grate on my nerves ('colour' was what I grew up with, 'color' is what has been forced upon me. IT IS NOT 'ALOT'!! there's no such thing as 'intensive purposes'!!), but I'm also not going to pretend that writing a particular way is more important than gauging what the student is communicating. if your aim is to measure learning of a particular topic, then isn't it more important to see whether the student is able to communicate her understanding of that topic? if she uses alternative spellings (even if they are not formally recognized alternate spellings), interpretive dance, digital storytelling, or LOLSPEAK, shouldn't that be a secondary concern?

    again... emphasis should be on what is being learned, and what is being used to communicate this learning. as Kathleen writes, English has changes so much. if we bring someone from the past and tell them that this is the accepted form of English, how do you think they'll react?

    penalizing someone because she speaks or writes in a way that is representative of her culture and reality is preventing her from expressing herself as she chooses to... you're trampling on her freedom and growth.

    I dunno... I kinda think that mebbe it's ok to spell a little funny if you're able to get your point across. amirite?!!

    [note: I have hidden some grammatical and spelling errors in my comment... let's see if you can spot them!]

    February 1, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      I found them, sava. Though, I am a writing teacher, so I might have a slight advantage to others.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • sava

        haha, Trent.
        I like how people commenting here behave as though they've never made grammatical or spelling errors. or even chosen to write a certain way. seriously... if you're not going to get the point of this post and point out sentence structure that you disagree with, that's just sad.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • dragonwife

      They're not very well hidden!

      I personally have no problem with lolspeak, "twitterese", or any other form of spelling/grammar, as long as it's used in an appropriate setting. In a text to your friends, yes. In a job application or report to your boss, no. The problem is that so many people don't seem to understand that there ARE differences among casual writing, business writing, and formal writing. I may be able to understand an e-mail that someone sends me, but if it's full of spelling or grammar errors, my immediate reaction is that the sender isn't very bright or is uneducated. Stereotyping? Maybe. But it's like everything else – you're perceived the way you present yourself, and if that presentation is sloppy or crude, that's how people will think of you. If a billionaire walks through a park wearing torn sweats, a stained t-shirt, and sneakers with a hole in them, is unshaven and mutters to himself as he walks, you'd probably think, "homeless person". If he walks there wearing a clean, pressed suit, shined shoes, is neatly groomed, and still mutters to himself, you'd probably think, "Hmm, must be talking on his Bluetooth." Same person, different perception based on outward appearance. It's the same with writing.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
      • sava

        of course! and that's what Kathleen is saying... at least that's what I get from this: show students different kinds of communication for different media. tell them why it's a particular way, help them make the right choices. no? context for the communication.

        and... in some way, I'd love to see stereotypes challenged and broken.

        I cringe at obvious bad grammar and spelling too, but I'm willing to examine the context, and respond in a way that's constructive and helpful rather than just come down on someone. if that makes sense =)

        February 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Cynic

      You make some good points. However, you are aware, aren't you, that "color" is the correct spelling of that word in the USA?

      February 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
      • sava

        yes, I am =)

        I was using it to point out that English is an evolving language. if you went to India and wrote "color", you'd be penalized for it, regardless of whether you were America or not.

        I also hate that I have to put my full stops inside my inverted commas here. sigh.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  61. Jeff

    This is the biggest generalization I have ever read. I'm 13 and I text in fully proper English.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Sherri

      I am proud of you! But, I worked at a university and while going through applications for student workers, I was shocked. Most applying could not spell, write etc. It was horrible! They were practically illiterate. I referred each of them to the career center, on campus to work on their resumes. They had been accepted to a major university, but as most of us know who've worked at a university, it is all about butts in seats and money. Pretty much anyone is accepted anymore. One student wrote 'hey' in the subject line. This was to apply for a job. The university was also offering remedial classes for those 'not ready for college'. But they were IN college. It is very sad.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
      • Cynic

        Try working for a large corporation if you want to see bad writing. It would bring you to tears.

        Standards have been declining in the United States for years. That is why the letters written by semi-educated Civil War soldiers seem like poetry in comparison to what passes for written English today. That is also why someone graduating high school in 1940 talks better than someone who just received a PhD.

        If a nation educates its children to aim low and just get by, why should anyone be surprised when its youth fails to achieve even that expectation?

        February 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • bfpierce

      unfortunately you didn't have the attention span to read the whole article...

      February 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • 10th Gen

      Keep up the good work and high personal standards – it will open more doors than you can imagine. You are part of the 1% of your generation who will be our leaders someday. The other 99% will be too busy updating social media to notice or care until it's too late.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Cynic

      Good for you! Never compromise the high standards that you hold for yourself.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  62. 10th Gen

    This idiot doesn't know what she's talking about. The REAL world outside of academia requires a minimal level of literacy to succeed. It requires a much higher level of literacy to excel. My step-daughter and niece, who are both very bright young women, recently discovered how poorly their texting obsession has served them. They both flunked English 101 in their first semester of college. Poor grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization were the norm in their attempts to write basic papers. I'd like to know how they graduated from their respective high schools without the ability to form a coherent sentence. And we wonder why America is so far behind every other developed nation in the world...

    February 1, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Basement_Cat

      Your step-daughter and niece made it out of a public school system crippled by helicopter parents who want to see their kids get a diploma whether they earned it or not. America is cynical and disinterested in education, and see we see it only as a means to an end - not a better life but just a job.

      And that's how you end up calling people idiots in an incoherent comment on a blog. if you think your kids got a poor education, walk to the nearest mirror and have a good look at the person who did not participate in the kids' learning process.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
      • 10th Gen

        When our children bring home progress reports that say everything is fine, we should be able to believe that everything is fine. In our case, we received my step-daughter's progress reports third-hand from the ex-wife, and saw no red flags until well after graduation. (Neither one would voluntarily admit failure to us.) My step-daughter wasn't raised in our home, otherwise, we would have been in a position to play an active daily role, as I do with my own son right now. In our home, we are all avid readers. Most of the television we watch involves science or history. We frequently have philosophical conversations about any number of topics. Learning is a lifestyle for all of us. So, yes, parental involvement is a key to the success of our children. However, it also falls upon the educators to let us know if something is amiss, so that we may help to correct it...before it's too late.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Cynic

      10th Gen, in your second post, you write: "However, it also falls upon the educators to let us know if something is amiss."

      I would guess that those educators have a lot "amiss" as well. Many teachers can't teach because they themselves have a poor grasp on their own field of study. They were too busy taking pointless education courses in college so that they could be certified to teach.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Trent M Kays

      You write as if the "real world" and "academia" are separate things. They are not. Also, I'm sure not paying attention didn't have anything to do with the said flunking of English 101.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  63. Mary

    Kids also can't do math. Most of this technology does not belong in schools. It is why they don't learn the basic skills

    February 1, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • uknowatimean

      This year, I had to teach my younger brother (eighth-grader) how to read an anolog clock.
      Everyone is dependent on technology – no matter what form.
      People have become reliant on the conveniences it offers, and don't bother to learn basic skills that would be necessary without today's technology.

      February 2, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  64. Renait

    I understand the point the author is trying to make here – but if she were a 24 year old, reliant upon twitter-speak, I probably would not.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  65. JLF

    I have always been a 'C' student in all of my engllish classes. My grammar and punctuation are not my high points, but I can spell. I recently spoke with a young lady who was teaching 6th grade and she stated that only a few of the kids she dealt with daily could put a proper paragrpah together! It's sad to see how fast some basic skills are just tossed aside by the younger more lazy generations.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Sherri

      Other than misspelling English, your spelling and grammar look fine to me. : )
      But I agree, they are not teaching it today like they should. And most in my family can't spell or write they way they should. This is what we are coming to, unfortunately.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
      • EDG

        Your criticism of JLF begins with a dangling particiiple. The words "like" and "as" are not interchangeable. My high school teachers corrected sentences that began with a coordinate conjunction, as you did - twice. Then, of course, there is your typographic error. You said "... write they way ..." when you obviously meant "... write the way ...."

        My intent is not to embarrass or attack you. I merely suggest that the degeneration of our nation's English literacy may be even more serious than you realize.

        February 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  66. Read a book!

    When I was a kid, if we weren't playing outside, we were inside reading a book. I loved to read as a child and as a result, I always did well academically. I not only was able to read/write well, but also verbally articulate myself much better than other students. The Internet, video games, text messaging, etc. are contributing to a lower quality of writing, speaking, and probably reading in this younger generation. Perfect example is a little girl who is now in 8th grade, and lived next door to me years ago. Her Facebook posts constantly look like this: "cant' waaaiaiiiitt 2 c my fave gurlz toooooodayyyyy!!!!" What in the world is that? Even if she does know how to spell those words correctly, she is developing very poor habits for later in life. And I am sure she's not the only one.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • srslyyyyyyy

      "I not only was able.." is just a weird sentence in itself.
      Also, just because you had the privileges of playing outside and reading all day doesn't mean that everyone else did too. I'm happy for you and all, but be conscientious of the issues in the world today, and the fact that not all parents encourage their kids to pick up a book, or even have the money to spend on providing them.
      By the way, I'm sure if the eighth-grader has any common sense she'll know not to write "Id be soooooooooo perfecttttt for thisss jobbb!!!!!!!!!" on her future resumes.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  67. harrisonhits2

    I've seen this coming for a long time as the internet grew and then texting because common. Twitter really did in the English language because everyone wants to jam as much info as possible into their 140 characters, so texting and twitter shorthand has become the norm for kids.

    I see terrible grammar and misspelling all over the place on the web, even sites like CNN, BBC etc that you would expect to hire people with at least basic spelling and writing skills.

    I don't have a twitter account don't want one, but have seen tweets from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and found it disturbing to see a middle aged billionaire who was writing like a teenage girl.

    See it with math skills too all the time when I check out at a store and even though the cash register is telling the teenager running it exactly how much change they are supposed to give, you can almost see the chipmunks running faster on the treadmill in their head as they try and figure out that a quarter, a nickle and two pennies equals 32 cents.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Jorgitos

      Run-on sentences, spelling errors and poor grammar show this author is no better equipped to write than Generation Text. Pot meet kettle.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • A Teenage Girl

      I couldn't help but find your comment to be arrogant, stereotypical and offensive. As people have pointed out in other comments, earlier generations are often condescending. I noticed that in your comment, you yourself used the shorthand ("..jam as much INFO..") that "has become the norm for kids." I believe that spelling and grammar are important, but I also believe there are situations in which their incorrectness can be pardoned. As you pointed out, Twitter has a 140 character limit. I don't think that writing a word in a short, incorrect, yet still understandable way, necessarily means that the person doesn't know how to spell the word correctly.

      Should we assume that you don't know how to spell thirty two because you wrote "32"?

      Basic writing skills include being aware of one's audience, which you are clearly not. In your comment, you repeatedly referred to a large number of people as "you." Also, you implied that all teenagers are less intelligent than yourself and your generation.

      In your poor transition to the topic of math skills, you forgot to consider that the "teenagers running" the registers are not the only ones who rely on the change display. I am currently employed and use an older register that does not display the amount of change owed. I work with people a lot older than me, and have noticed that more often than not, they too struggle with calculating the change owed without the assistance of a computerized register. Also, more often than not, the customer is unaware of how much change they should be receiving.

      My response to your comment may not have a proper flow of ideas or perfect structure, but I was still able to get my points across in a relatively accepted manor, and manage to sound a lot smarter than you given the fact that I am a teenage girl.

      By the way, your metaphor about the chipmunk and the treadmill is completely idiotic.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  68. David

    Isn't the point of communication is to convey one's thoughts into words? Who cares if someone uses "their" instead of "there" or "why?" instead of "y?" People are still getting their piont across.

    The thing I hate most is the person on comment boards correcting people's grammar online. Why don't people just digest the thoughts conveyed and think about it instead of saying, "Wow, you are a complete moron, you forgot to use an apostrophe!"

    I think English majors are just being defensive because they are coming to the realization that there really is no reason for English anymore. If society was truely smart with English... why didn't they read the fine print with mortgages? It's all there in the fine print... there are risks you are agreeing to when you purchase a house that you are ultimately liable for.

    February 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • viz

      I think you fail to realize that legalese != English. That's why people are specially trained as lawyers to read law and contracts. The problem is that contracts are written so that only lawyers can truly understand the implications of what the contract really means. They're also designed to be overly wordy and long so that your eyes glaze over by page 5.

      Reading a financial contract and doing it carefully enough to really understand every word is a little bit like getting a root canal.

      Then there are outside financial factors beyond your control, such as gas prices tripling in the past 10 years, insane tax hikes and medical calamity, all of which this country has had it's fair share of. We're not getting raises fast enough to keep up with the rising cost of living, and I'm not talking about inflation.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • S1N

      That's a simple question to answer. Without meaningless rules, what would English teachers due for a living? Also, it would seem a large number of individuals wish they had become English teachers instead. Personally, I couldn't care less about the quality of your grammar so long as I can understand your point.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
      • signalfire

        It's 'do for a living', not 'due'....


        February 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Rich

      The problem arises when one has to decipher what you're saying. It's not my job to translate thoughts from text-speak – it's you job to communicate them.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
      • Rich

        Erm... "your" job to communicate them.

        February 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Amused

      The real problem is far more than just nit-picking about punctuation. The real issue with poor grammar is the lack of precise meaning. When you start ignoring the basic rules of grammar, you create confusion and promote vaugeness and misunderstanding in your attempt to convey a message. That is the REAL problem with the proliferation of lazy and poorly written text messages! I have witnessed many arguments between adolescents caused by poorly written text messages that are completely mis-interpreted and misunderstood! You may think those cute little text abbreviations and trendy acronyms make you look cool and hip, but carrying these bad habits with you to your job is a guaranteed recipie for failure! You need to understand that clear communication is BY FAR the single most important skill you can have in the professional world!

      February 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Justin

      You need to watch Idiocracy. Why teach English when we can just put little pictures of hamburgers on the fast food cash register?

      February 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  69. rad666

    "kids today can't write" --– Today's kids? Colleges complained in the mid 80s that they were spending too much money on remedial classes for English and math.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  70. kidzRstoopid

    we r stoopid...send over the Indians 2 take our parents jobs. We will serve fries 2 them.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  71. Kristal

    High school students do need to develop their writing skills by creating effective and fun blogs and tweets. They also need to do research papers with correct citations and formal writing skills. For teachers to do this effectively, English/grammar teachers must have enough time to seriously grade these papers. Also, as a business teacher, I find that high school students KNOW the difference between their and there; your and you're, etc. They are just too LAZY to correct themselves. They hate proofreading and complain massively when . . . wait, I see a squirrel; boy it's nice outside for February!

    February 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  72. Mike

    We're slowly fulfilling all of what happened in the opening of the movie "Idiocracy". It's no wonder Fox tried to kill it seeing as probably 99% of their readers/viewers felt it hitting too close to home.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  73. Defarge

    Every commenter but one supplies absolutely no sense of context, reference, or citation for the voluminous critical and research literature on this subject. No one has written a well-considered essay in response. Everyone has plopped a paragraph of free-written text into a comment box on a blog. And yet everyone seems critical of the kinds of information literacies being discussed, even while they practice them. What have you proved?

    February 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • 10th Gen

      The majority of those commenting on this article are doing so in a clear, concise manner. They are using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation to articulate their ideas in English. They are imparting their opinions in such a way as to promote deeper thought and productive conversation. Imagine if all internet participants had equally high personal standards.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • Defarge

        Just the point Dr. Fitzpatrick is making. Thanks.

        February 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  74. suzanne

    In order to be a better writer you need to be a better reader.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  75. Face

    Kids are coming into my Community College straight out of high school, and the first thing they need is to take remedial math and English. The public schools are graduating kids that cannot read their own diploma.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Anon

      Hahaha, you are right. I am a community college instructor for science classes and the majority of my students, of ALL ages, have trouble understanding why I want the to use full sentences. The first day of classes I say, "My biggest pet-peeve is incomplete sentences, which means everything you write in here should have a subject, noun, predicate and punctuation"...blank faces result. I, as a science teacher, spend a great deal of time on teaching my students how to effectively write. I don't mind, usually I think its funny when they write silly stuff. To all this silly complaining I say, at least they want to learn, at least they are they are trying.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  76. Smock

    Why would they need to know? All they need to know is how to find and Occupy gathering.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  77. Rod C. Venger

    So the writer is now proposing to democratize the judging of student's homework or a thesis? That seems to be the gist of it. Let the mob judge whether or not this person is worthy. It sounds to me like she's tired or reading endless, badly written papers and wants to foist it off on others. Hey, you chose a liberal arts education and you got stuck teaching. Live with what you've brought on yourself.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  78. Dave S

    This author utterly misses the biggest flaw of internet postings – quality. The problem with blogs is not that they are blogs, or that they are on the internet. The problem is the majority of blog posts are poorly thought out and incomplete.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  79. AlongTheWay

    Not a shocker at all.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • AlongTheWay

      This has been coming for some time. Literacy was already in the toilet to the point that Ebonics was seriously considered and tried – though failed. Communication and personal face-to-face time has not only suffered, it's stranger for THIS new generation to experience. I watched several girls at a BD party my neice attended and they were all sitting around texting.....each other. They were sitting right next to one another!! Nope. No suprised. We'll be just understanding pictures and no written language....just give it a handful of generations at the most.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  80. dabble53

    I'm not so worried about the abbreviations and acronyms being fostered by modern digital technology, as I am about the lack of proper vocabulary and grammar. For example, with most younger people I've encountered, knowing the distinction between their, there and they're and when to use which, is much more disconcerting. Others include the (long time) common its versus it's, and to/too/two – still being hard to believe people do not know numbers from others.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  81. Roger Andrews

    Electronic media are not the problem – they don't limit learning or communication, and in fact expand the opportunities for both (as noted in the article). Nor are changes in language the problem. The problem is that too many schools at all levels fail to teach language and logic adequately. This is not a new issue – it has been around long enough that today's teachers often can't teach properly because they never were required to develop the rigorous thought process needed for clear communication. Multiple choice test questions that have no correct answer, notes from teachers to students and parents that are confusing, and teachers sending wrong information because their grammar is faulty are all too common examples.

    By all means use electronic media, but in addition to using them to send code, use them to lift the standard of education and communication.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • David

      Everyone (particularly politicians) likes to blame the teachers for the lack of education that many of today's kids are demonstrating. The secret truth (to all but teachers and a few others) is – the problem is parents. Parents are doing more to undermine a teacher's best effort to educate their kids. The primary reason is money. Here in Louisiana parents get subsidized by the state for their child's college education with the amount dependent upon their high school grades. So parents have stopped caring if their child learns anything. All they do is demand that their child gets a retest or whatever it takes to get a better grade (so they can get more money). At least in Louisiana, parents are the problem.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • TonyJ

      Roger, I must partially diasagree with your reasoning. A new, fresh out of college teacher in today's society already HAS the problem of "lack of good communication". Consider this; Microsoft Word, Works, WordPerfect, etc have been out for 20+ years now. How easy has it been for everyone to use spelling and grammar checking WITHOUT asking themselves "WHY is this incorrect? The PC will correct it for me, I have no need to learn". Add to that the lack of educational funding and the reduction of key learning skills/tactics in todays schools. Are you aware that diagramming a sentence is no longer taught in most schools? How are today's children supposed to learn sentence structure, the BASIS of good writing or speech skills? It is a catch 22 problem; it isn't taught, it isn't learned, so it isn't re-taught. All these children/teens/young adults that are using abbreviated text messaging are shooting themselves in the educational foot, so to speak. Technology is a runaway monster, and unless the individual person has the desire to learn for themselves correctly...they become part of the continuing problem.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  82. Steve

    I teach at the College level and see the change from library driven to internet driven research. There are more oportunities to read and write. Unfortunately the written grammer is far worse today then what I experienced in the past. Perhaps today's greater opportunities allow for more phrases rather then full sentances with noun – verb agreement, etc. Imagine writing a full paragraph on a cell phone.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Fred

      "is far worse today then "

      Not to rip you too badly, Steve, but shouldn't a college-level teacher know the difference between "then" and "than"? In the sentence fragment above, "than" is the proper word, not "then".

      February 1, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • superjen

      You teach at the College level and don't know how to spell "grammar" or "sentences"? Really?

      February 1, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • MHMurphy

      It's rather scary that you teach "at the college level," but don't know how to spell grammar ... or "sentences" ...
      and say grammar is "far worse then ... " instead of than. Perhaps the problems you describe are a function of ostensibly advanced teachers who don't know any better.

      I teach at the College level and see the change from library driven to internet driven research. There are more oportunities to read and write. Unfortunately the written grammer is far worse today then what I experienced in the past. Perhaps today's greater opportunities allow for more phrases rather then full sentances with noun – verb agreement, etc. Imagine writing a full paragraph on a cell phone.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • jim

      I teach at the College level and see the change from library driven to internet driven research. There are more oportunities to read and write. Unfortunately the written grammer is far worse today then what I experienced in the past. Perhaps today's greater opportunities allow for more phrases rather then full sentances with noun – verb agreement, etc. Imagine writing a full paragraph on a cell phone.

      Point proven. Even our college professors do not know how to write proper English. Should also be a comma after, "Unfortunately." "Oportunities," is spelled incorrectly. Pretty sure there are two p's. I am not saying that I am the best writer, in fact I'm fairly sure I'm terrible, but if you are going to come out saying that you are a college professor, you should at least be able to display your ability properly.

      Also, to the people complaining that the writer used "I've" instead of "I have," you're trying to pick out anything you can about the article just to critique it any way you can. I pretty sure contractions have been used for a long time and are still being taught in the classroom. Get over yourselves.

      February 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Heid Theba

      All those critiques and nobody noticed that "sentances" should be "sentences"? The box into which I entered this text even underlined it in red to show me it was wrong when I wrote it. OMG, LMAO etc., etc., etc.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  83. Rick

    So the next time I hear, " YO, come on over to the crib, so we can get a little smack ", you want me to consider that a part of the evolutoin of our dynamically changing language ?........... I DON"T THINK SO !!!!!!!!! Children are getting lazier and lazier, and technology is a vehicle that is enforcing that..... No kid wrties reports anymore, they CUT and PASTE...... No don't tell me your crap.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Justin

      Don't be hatin', yo.

      February 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  84. Readin,ritin,rithmatic

    This article only makes sense if we accept that it is ok for people to communicate in a way that "works for me." While that might be fine in academia, it falls flat in places such as the medical, legal, engineering or technology fields. Failure to learn to communicate complex concepts in clear, formalized English will severly limit anyone seeking to succeed in a field where they don't get to make up their own rules. I recently turned away 99% of resumes for a recent consulting position for which I was hiring because of this very concern.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • signalfire

      It's 'severely' not 'severly'... just sayin'. The sentence about 'for which I was hiring' doesn't sound right, either, but I'll give you a pass on it.

      Wow, when the people who can't spell are rejecting job applications because the applicants are even worse spellers, Houston, we have a problem. And these are the same engineers that are building your nuclear power plants and that bridge you travel over every day...

      February 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  85. Mary Hatch

    This is all so amusing and reminds me of the Monty Python skit about the "Twit of the Month" contest. In this age of texting, it's no wonder that kids can't put together sentences let alone their own thoughts. We have moved from Huxley's Brave New World to Facebook's and Twitter's Grave New World.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  86. Jason

    Poor writing is not confined to the youth of today. Some people in my company making 5 figures a month can't write a coherent sentence to save their soul.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  87. bubie

    The issue that keeps appearing in digital media (in my opinion) is the apparent lack of quality control that the medium engenders. Poor proofing, dependence on spell-checkers that don't understand context, and lack of research make web-based dissemination of information more like an afternoon of gossip at the salon than a presentation of accurate information. We've lost accountability for what we are "saying".

    February 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  88. Jon

    I should think that the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association would know that "I've got" is redundant. "I have nearly 20 years of experience..." is sufficient.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  89. James

    So that's why people complain they can't read my writing! I can type 70+ words (accurately I might add) a minute but I feel like I'm going to have a seizure anytime I try and print by hand. Still gets me close to six figures a year.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  90. al

    NO SHOIT SHAKESPEARE ! When did you geniuses figure that out?

    February 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • You're not Your


      February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  91. Iahn G

    The ability to read and write is required in order to take advantage of digital methods of communication. As these media become more ubiquitous in everyday life, the individual necessity for literacy increases.
    This discussion of literacy; however, does not broach the question of the quality of literacy achieved. It is difficult to deny the striking similarity between modern text-message english and the english of George Orwell's 'newspeak' in his novel 1984. I think the real question is that while more people may find themselves with very basic literacy, which is greatly advantageous, will far fewer find themselves reaching the mastery of their literary ability so as to continue to push the limits of the art of language? Are we facing a future of fewer great english novels, poems, and songs?

    February 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Alex

      Orwell's ideas about Newspeak are quite ridiculous. Basically, what he describes is an agglutinative language. One may wonder why he thinks agglutinative languages are evil and totalitarian ? Finnish language is very agglutinative – you can construct long words by adding to it all kind of syllables which change its meaning, I don't think it makes Finns evil and their society Orwellian. And what similarity you see between that and texting spelling is also a puzzle.

      February 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  92. Old Gaffer

    The writer lost some of her credibility with me as soon as she wrote "I've got" rather than "I have". While I agree that language is not static, certain norms have (seemingly) always existed that hold professional communication to a higher standard than street slang; I believe these norms exist to help ensure precision that often gets sacrificed to expediency.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  93. kupkak

    "I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom, though, and I'm the director of scholarly communication at the Modern Language Association" The word "got" is a poor word choice in her sentence.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  94. Phil

    "I've got nearly 20 years of experience in the classroom..."

    Pretty funny... Whatever happened to "I have"?

    February 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • You're not Your

      "I've" is "I have" conjuncted.

      So really, to your point, "I have" is in there, but instead of the person in question just saying "I have 20 years experience..." they chose to say "I have got 20 years experience..."

      They can easily lose "got" and communicate the same meaning.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  95. Justin

    Reminds me of the study that the Army did on "Does Powerpoint make us more stupid?" I think the answer they came up with was- Yes, yes it does.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Old Gaffer

      After almost 30 years of government service, I say with some conviction that PowerPoint has done more to HAMPER effective and efficient communication than it has helped. So much time is spent on the appearance of presentation that the content suffers dramatically.

      I clearly remember being in an advanced training program and sitting in a room as an observer of the highest ranking civilian in the Dept of Defense and a group of Sr. Execs and Flag Officers – discussing the color and size of test in a PowerPoint slide show for presentation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff...what a waste of executive time and taxpayer money!

      February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  96. StellieD

    I do not believe that the kids today have any kind of literacy. But I do not believe it is the technology that is to blame. Teachers and parents are to blame. Parents for allowing kids to do homework on the computer rather than the old fashioned way. It is a shame that a high school student can not even write or do math. I have students in my store all the time that can not even figure out that a yard is 36 inches, or 3 feet equal 1 yard. It is really sad.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  97. Justin

    Ms. Fitzpatrick must be one of those people who also believed that ebonics was an acceptable form of communication. Sorry Kathleen, but the day that text-message lingo becomes as accepted as proper English grammar is the day that our civilization dies. I recommend watching Mike Judge's Idiocracy for anyone who thinks otherwise.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  98. Sir Hugo Drax

    Further proof that the Human race is getting less intelligent everyday. It plays right into the hands of the 1%. People are much easier to enslave with they are dumb. Resistance is futile....unless your willing to fight!

    February 1, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • You're not Your

      In this instance, it's "you're" not "your".

      February 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • AndriconBoy

      Umm… fighting is resistance. But you did a super good job of trying to sound smart and profound! Nice work! Good for you! You deserve a gold star for participation! I’ll put it next to the smiley face sticker you earned for drawing a stick figure cat. Have mommy and daddy put it on the refrigerator.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Alex

      Not following proper spelling ? Speaking about English spelling, I how always wondered how it is possible that 'girl' is spelt just 'girl', not 'geuirhulle' ? How is it possible that 'boy' is just a 'boy' not 'bawehiegh' ? The inventors of so called 'CORRECT SPELLING" sure did not complete their job of making written English completely unusable. But surely they tried hard.

      February 1, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • You're not Your

        .... what are you talking about?

        February 1, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
      • Alex

        Jesus Christ somebody asks what I am talking about ? Plough dough through tough cough ? Did you you that in every other European language, the words with same ending have also pronounced rhyming ? And what that 'gh' anyway ? A sound that disappeared from spoken language 500 years ago. Why on earth it is 'correct' to include that crap ? And everything else. Do you what is the letter 'S' in word 'island' ? It is there because some idiot wrongly thought that the germanic word 'eiland' is related to latin word 'insula'. There are hundreds of such 'correct spelling' words with spelling invented by misinformed nutcases trying to mimic Latin and French,.

        February 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • Tbone

        The point you are making is a little stupid. You're starting to question the root and spelling of words. Some come from other languages or other sources. Learn them, stop being lazy. It isn't so bad. I don't see you inventing a new language from scratch. Much like other things languages evolve with time.

        February 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
      • signalfire

        The standardizer of American English was Daniel Webster, presumably because no one else wanted to bother. His spelling became the rule at least in this country (USA). Tough job but someone had to do it.

        February 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  99. Jim

    I read more every day, but my attention span is getting shorter...wait, is that a squirrel???

    February 1, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • James

      And I rarely get excited about anything.....WOW, A BLUE CAR JUST WENT BY!!!

      February 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  100. Andrew McA

    I agree with what you say here - I don't think that new technologies are decreasing literacy, but rather broadening what it means to be literate. I think that being literate in today's heavily mediated society is much different than being literate in early eras of human history. So what the execution of literate is changing, the definition remains oddly static, suck in a dynamic of writing papers and reading hardcopy books.

    I think that literacy today includes elements of critical thought, engagement, and community in addition to the old dynamic of reading/writing. In a world of blogs and Twitter, one must always approach a post with a critical eye, and response is expected and actively sought out. No one writes a blog or writes a tweet to have it ignored, or no one to read it. In short, I think the definition of literacy needs to be expanded to include what it means to be literate in a digital society.

    February 1, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Sarah

      "Literacy today includes elements of critical thought, engagement, and community in addition to the old dynamic of reading/writing" – Yes! I totally agree. When I hear others complain that "kids today" don't know how to write or read, I think they don't understand how much the world has changed in the small amount of time they have been alive. Paraphrasing Shakespeare is not as important as defending whether his works have any relevance in the modern world OR checking the validity of a website on Hamlet. If anything, students need direct instruction on how to be even more effective with digital communication and not degraded for their interest in the new medium. I don't see how five paragraph essays apply to real world jobs- so teachers should embrace blogs and help set parameters for the language (just because it is digital doesn't mean every English teacher will be advocating for LOL to replace proper grammar).

      February 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Seriously, people

        Well, a five-paragraph essay teaches students to organize their thoughts in a clear, coherent, and concise manner. Many real-world jobs demand the same. If it's important for students to "defend whether [Shakespeare's] works have any relevance in the modern world," they had better learn how to do it in a way other people can understand.

        February 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
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