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#writing is a lost art

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By Peggy Arman, The Dorris-Eaton School

Is our hashtag and texting culture of brevity contributing to the decline in our students’ ability to write well? While efficient methods of expression, they are essentially utilitarian and somewhat superficial. A well-written paragraph, essay, or presentation requires thought, deliberation, and revision. It’s a skill that is developed over time with the assistance of teachers adept at providing guidance and feedback. Texting is easier and takes less time and energy, but that’s not the skill employers seek. Being a competent writer is the expertise that is valued. Clear, coherent writing distinguishes one person from others. It can even be the reason one student is selected to take the last seat of a popular college class.

A college freshman from the East Bay attending the University of Virginia wanted to enroll in an upper division English course, where the policy was to give priority to upper classmen. At the end of the first English class meeting, it was announced that one more student would be allowed to enroll. Several freshmen and sophomores stood in line to plead their case to the professor, detailing why they should be the one person added to the class over the others vying for the spot. To make the determination, the professor had each student write a response to the prompt: What is home? Submitting a well-written, five-paragraph essay resulted in the East Bay freshmen being the student to land the one spot. When the professor asked how she had learned to write so well, she said she had learned and honed her writing skills during her tenure at The Dorris-Eaton School.

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