Yesterday I read a piece in the Washington Post entitled A warning to college professors from a high school teacher, by Valerie Strauss. It was the reprint of a letter that first appeared in Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors by Kenneth Bernstein. It’s a searing criticism of 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act and an eye opener in educational policy written by policy makers without any practical (hands on teaching) experience. I immediately tweeted the article out to @PeteDomenick (who by the way, never responds to my tweets- jerk!) because it’s a topic that I would love to hear on his radio show, Stand UP with Pete Domenick.
Bernstein’s arguments all make perfect sense to me. As a yoga teacher and student, I know that the very best teachers/classes are taught not by the ones that have studied yogic philosophy or taken 1000s of hours of trainings. But the ones that have studied and taught 1000s of classes. As a law student that has moved from classes to clinical to practice. I know that hands-on is always the best. It’s practical vs. the theoretical.
I finished college before No Child Left Behind. I was never subject to the
ridiculous rigorous testing that students face today. I personally don’t think I could handle it. I am the woman who chose to law school instead of graduate school simply because the LSAT didn’t include math. LSATs are a different kind of testing. It’s reading comprehension and logic. It’s not just multiple choice. It IS critical thinking. I don’t know much about education policy but I do believe that generally, standardized testing does not accurately reflect one’s intelligence. And forcing children to conform to A, B, C, D or sometimes E doesn’t foster critical thinking. All that being said, culpability for the inability of today’s youth to think critically can’t be placed only on standardized tests.
The internet internet is making us stupid.
More specifically, lazy internet chatter is making us stupid. It’s not the access to unlimited amounts of knowledge, it’s social networking. Chat rooms, forums, Facebook and twitter feeds have dulled our wordsmithing prowess and ability to critically analyze and articulate thoughts. In college I excelled at writing. Rhetorical advocacy was my forte. I could whip out a thought provoking, moving, campaign speech in a matter of hours. In law school, my verbosity exploded and was then reigned in by Wydick (thank you, Plain English for Lawyers). Whether it was too many words, or concise words, I could still string them together properly. Grammar was my best friend.
Since finishing my LL.M, a few things have changed; I stopped writing on a daily basis, my reading habits changed and social media exploded. Social marketing IS the way to do business today. If you’re not tweeting, emailing, building your list and interacting with others online, your business isn’t thriving, it’s most likely failing. The hip way to write these days is with creative punctuation accented with the creative use of color, font and italics for emphasis. Gone of the days of using punctuation to make an exclamation (even if we did annoy Elaine with the excessive !!!!! use). Now it’s font size and color. No one has done this more effectively than Danielle LaPorte. (Side note: I have immense respect for Danielle. I have purchased both her books, I am on her list. I retweet her words on the regular. I am a fan). Danielle put “+” on the map and it has since spread like wildfire. There isn’t one single fempreneuer out there that hasn’t pilfered from her marketing formula. As a female business owner I’ve done the same. Live. Breathe. Grow. and Sprouting Wellness emails were sent out focused on
ATTENTION + CALL TO ACTION
Critical thought, complete sentences and grammar have been tossed out the window. As a small business owner, I enrolled in online marketing school. I hired other fempreneuers to teach me their secrets to social media copy. I was in the thick of the social marketing game. It’s social marketing for the MTV generation and it has fucked with our ability to construct grammatically correct critical thought! Strunk & White are crying in the corner.
And now, here I type, small business laid to rest (for them moment- never say never), embarking on a Ph.D, and I can’t remember how to write. I am not a member of the No Child Left Behind generation. I am their big sister. I was taught to think critically and to write in high school, college and law school (thank you, Scott Gibbs, Susan Picard, Paul Erickson, Andy Freed, Jim May and Cliff Fechtschaffen). I have the burning desire to dig through boxes in my father attic, searching for my Advocacy and Argument, persuasive writing and Rhetorical Theory notebooks from college simply so I can participate in an intelligent written discussion in one of my graduate online classes. I can’t blame standardized tests. The only thing I have to blame is too much time lost in online forums and opinions limited to 140 characters or less.