“No doubt the English language, which survived “groovy,” is sturdy enough to withstand this. | But are the kids? | If they don’t learn how to use the written word to communicate the kind of complex concepts that the colonists wanted to convey to King George, they may well find themselves speechless when the course of human events demands eloquence.”
While this editorial does rise above the usual curmudgeonly hand-wringing that laments what “the kids” are up to, and while as a writing teacher I, too, cringe when I encounter informal writing in a formal context, I have yet to encounter a student who is incapable of switching to a more formal mode when the situation requires it. In my experience, students who are used to typing thoughts off the top of their heads need a lot more practice in pre-writing (including research) and heavy revision (rather than focusing on making the green and red wavy lines disappear from their MS-Word documents).
Just as the arrival of the automobile threatened the trade of horseshoeing but opened up a huge new realm of possibilities, I think that students who grow up socializing on IM develop the ability to think on their feet, react quickly to changing situations, multitask, and do all sorts of other things that were really hard for our ancestors to learn while scratching out their lessons in their log cabins.
Teachers need to adjust their methods, in order to draw upon the strengths that our students bring with them into the classroom.