On writing … and reading …

One of the reasons I love the Internet is that, for this Alice, it is the rabbit hole I fall down time and again. While I don’t see furniture going past me as I fall, I often see similar topics spoken of from different perspectives.

Today was not exception, starting with the Chicago Tribune. The actual paper in all its ink smudgy glory (see white banisters of my home to see my loyalty to inked up dead trees).

The Trib today had an article about budget cuts. As I can’t pass you that section of the paper, here it is online.  http://trib.in/pxaJUO

In short, to lower the budget, IL students will no longer face a writing exam. Writing is hard to grade. I know… I taught composition. It is expensive to grade because it doesn’t dot test. I’ve never put lots of value in the standardized writing exams because, no matter how many rubrics you create, the grader brings more to the essay that the author.

However, it is a sign of priority .. in the case, a priority sliding off of the face of IL. What do you think? Do we need to test writing? Dunno …  but know that my ability to put words on paper is what allows me to put food on the table …

Put that issue slightly to the side, and let me welcome Roger Ebert to the discussion, who blogged today about The Great Gatsby here  http://bit.ly/nGd6ZX. Not Gatsby actually, but a ‘simpler’ version that was published. Look – fewer vocabulary words. Look – simple explanations rather than poetry. Have you always pondered the end of Gatsby, feeling at a loss to the proper definition of success and how to put your world view into Gatsby’s at the end of the book? Worry no longer … the end is now spelled out … in words I never would have associated my feelings of the book.

Ebert talks about reading over one’s head, something I encourage myself to do frequently. Richard Powers never fails to make me feel lacking in XXX  (intelligence, understanding, comprehension, etc., etc.) when I read his books, but reading them forces me to learn and grow (and confront that while I’m in the middle of my life where I could rest on laurels and declare what I know to be ‘everything’, I know that is nonsense… or am reminded by Powers, to name one).

Are we helping creating children who are less facile with words? Is this stepping back, dumbing down and walking away really okay? Your thoughts??

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