Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The New Writing

The discussion of all that's new in education, especially technology, is exhausting—tiresome?—for the imperiousness. I read an article about so-called digital writing. The blurb/sub-title said something about 'innovative teachers' using technology to engage students more in writing.

The first sentence of the essay claims, "The nature of writing has shifted in recent years."

It has? I wish somebody had alerted me sooner, because I missed it.

"Digital writing," the article points out, "is writing created or read on a computer or other Internet-connected device."

I guess the article I was reading--which was created on a computer and posted on the Internet itself—was therefore this newly "re-natured" writing, even though it seemed strangely similar to "traditional" writing.

The article points out that "traditional writing formats, such as journaling, are frequently used for private reflection, digital writing is almost always meant for an audience."

Well, if you pick one specific traditional format to compare with digital, yes. But writing teachers have long taught writers to think about their audience.

--- Give me a break, just because college applications might be online doesn't mean the nature of writing has changed. You do the same tasks as before, but on a different platform. That's not a changed nature, but rather reflects that the fundamental purpose of writing is nearly immutable.

Seemingly innocuous claims like the changed nature of writing are dangerous. Such brazenness invokes the risk of diminishing the seriousness of our approach to issues. Digital realities are important. I'm sure, for instance, that the increasing digitization of reading and writing (and the greater variety and brevity of material that people read and write) affects the neural wiring of the brain, which then establishes/affects the prospects and constraints for further reading and writing activity. This is an important thing. But claiming that digitization has changed the nature of writing, when it hasn't, raises the prospect that we miss or diminish this other actually important situation.

Of course, brazen claims get attention. It's easier to get on TV or make a blogging name for yourself with attention-getting statements.

Imagine reframing the story. "Some teachers have used digital tools to try to stimulate more enthusiasm for writing. There are benefits as well as costs to doing this. Overall, some teachers have found it somewhat helpful."

Wouldn't get as much attention, even though it's more accurate.

No comments: