Sunday, October 30, 2005

Written Communication

Many of my teachers of past and not so long past seem to have the idea that length is a contributing factor to how well a essay is written or how well an idea is communicated. This I have long believed is a very bad thing to be passing along to students. The length of an essay should be determined by the topic and the ability of the writer. The fewer sentences required to communicate an idea, the better the writer. Assigning an essay and then assigning a length is anti-productive to learning. The student is then thinking, “how can I fill one or two pages with this topic?” instead of thinking “how can I best communicate my ideas?” My faculty to communicate my ideas with few words hurt my grades during my education more than it helped them but now this belief of mine is a advantage.
Two students write an essay. One student writes one page and the other student writes two pages. THe two students papers have, for arguments sake, the same content of ideas. The student with the one page paper is the better writer and communicator. Assigning an arbitrary length of two pages would hurt the student with the ability to write a one page paper. The student would write a good paper, and then fill it with a page of filler.
The problem is most English teachers in America have never had real world experience in written communication. They are great with explaining Frost and Shakespeare, but a business memo has to be written with length and clear communication in mind. A memo should not be a literary work of perfection. It is an entirely different skill to write a memo as opposed to writing a literary essay in secondary school or university.

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