“Just write,” the teachers told you. “Express yourself, and don’t be concerned with the spelling, punctuation, grammar or paragraph structure.” Your every effort at writing was met with ooh’s and aah’s even though nobody had any idea what you were saying. You were putting your thoughts on paper, and they told you that was all that mattered. By now, you may have figured out that they did not tell you the truth.
The great minds in the world of education went through a phase where they were very concerned that students were experiencing a constipation of thought. They decided if something wasn’t done early on to free up students’ minds to write, they could easily fall victim to a serious blockage that would kill all hope of writing in the future. Instead of the occasional misspelled word that was painstakingly corrected, a stroll down the hall of the school showed work on display that consisted of one misspelled word after another. Instead of mistakes, these were wonderful, creative pieces. So, you were told.
Your school may have used the remedial reading program, “Writing to Read,” produced by IBM. My daughter’s school used it for everyone, remedial or not. Already reading above first-grade reading level, she was distraught that the computer would not let her spell words correctly with the silent “e,” like snake. The system was based on using phonics to spell. There was no accommodation made for correct spelling.
Somewhere along the way, reality slaps you in the face. In the adult world, you are expected to be able to write proficiently with good spelling and grammar. Knowing where to use a comma is not like playing “pin-the-tail-on- the-donkey”; there are rules. Organizing sentences and paragraphs is also expected. Your boss is not so enamored with your poorly written, but very expressive report.
There will be no smiley faces or colorful stickers in the unemployment line.