A Portrait of the Linguist as a Young Dorky Girl

Today is School Photo Day, conceived of and founded by Educlaytion, Ironic Mom, and Keenie Beanie, three fantastic bloggers with fun, creative ideas for community-building. If they weren’t so great, I wouldn’t even think about breaking out the goofy kindergarten picture, but (deep breath) here it is, along with a little discussion about reading:

The year was 1976. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was number one at the box office, and it was still another nine months or so before Star Wars. Punk Rock had become an official genre, even though disco was still going strong. Nadia Comaneci had won 3 Olympic gold medals in gymnastics with perfect scores. Jimmy Carter had been elected President, and The United States was 200 years old, but I was only five. This is where I start my story. Continue reading

Who will inherit the language?

Last week, I shared some examples of the writing I see from students at the community college where I work. Most of it comes from essays written before they take writing classes, so the hopeful assumption is that they will improve as they go through their college career. In reaction to that post, Renée over at Lessons from Teachers and Twits brought to my attention this video posted on Profesorbaker’s Blog. It is an interview of Professor Andrea Lunsford, Stanford University’s Director of Writing and Rhetoric, who conducted a longitudinal study of writing abilities, following 190 students at Stanford for almost six years. She explains that she found no significant influence of technology on the quality of writing.

What can this study really tell us? How accurately does it reflect what is happening in schools and colleges these days? Can we really conclude from it that technology is not exerting any influence on the English language or writing skills? Or must we limit our conclusions to more modest proportions? Continue reading