You will agree with me that one of the missing links that has led to poor writing is the failure of the system (home, school, students and government) in addressing the issue of drop or collapse of READING CULTURE among many of our public school students.

You will note that the FIVE learning skills of: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Thinking and, Writing, are critical in the development of a child academically. How many of our students read, leave the quality of what they read out of the discussion for now?

Reading, quality one at that prepares the child for CRITICAL THINKING or WRITING which is the most complex of the skills highlighted above. The totality of what a child is able to write eventually is got and derived from what he has been able to pick during reading tasks.

A child/adult who reads voraciously picks and steals ideas from various writers and makes them his, in the long run. His mind/brain is fertile and rich of ideas, information and knowledge of his world. 

All forms of writing from argumentative, speech writing, expository, descriptive to narrative not forgetting letters would have been consumed or met in his reading expeditions. So, he is a warehouse of all shades of styles and techniques of writing. Do not forget that as a reader, the child and even an adult will meet both CONTENT and FORM while consuming other people's works. With CONTENT, he has WHAT to write eventually. And with FORM he would have garnered HOW to write in the exciting period of reading others' works.

Today, our children, who of course are our products, have become so lazy and empty both in HOW and WHAT to write that we now see abbreviations or short messages: lol, LMAO, sup, brb, etc, in writings that are formal and literary. They begin to write but get stuck and wither off as soon as they begin because their warehouse has not contained anything enriching or edifying as far as ideas and information are concerned. 

After all, no one can give what they do not have. How many of your/our students today, can differentiate formal words from informal ones? You may not be surprised that even some of their teachers too suffer similar challenges. 

How many of our students and sometimes including teachers know where and where not to use compressed expressions: 'don't, won't, can't, he'd, she's' etc: formal or informal writings? If you are guilty of this, let your conscience prick you as you read this.

Let's talk about mechanical accuracy or simply put, MECHANICS, which will address: Spelling, Punctuations, Capitalization, and Paragraphing...

How many of our children, and once again, our adults now write with these mechanics being taken into consideration as they write?

Today, you read scripts without sentences properly punctuated or words capitalized where and when necessary. Don't even talk about spellings or failure to write essays with appropriate paragraphs. You read some essays and their writers will not make use of paragraphs. 

Is it not when a child knows that his or her essay needs paragraphs that she or he will make use of appropriate paragraph connectors?

Today, you read FIRSTLY, SECONDLY, THIRDLY etc, as paragraph markers. So, when the child has as many as five or six or more paragraphs to use or open in his or her essay, does he say SIXTLY, SEVENTLY thereby making his or her writing tasteless? 

It does appear we are cursed or jinxed. It only looks like the diseases that have attacked our moral bases have also infected us academically.

Dear friends, it is not all gloomy as these abnormalities will not last with us eternally. We can solve or bring back the good old days by:

   v  Revamping our reading culture by de-emphasising those skills that do no one any good.

   v  Ensuring that reading takes a portion on our school time table.

  v  Ensuring that we engage these children in activities that will make them do critical thinking and analysis as a result of what they have read.

  v  Government and NGOs providing books of various types to school library for the use of all.

  v  Asking students to watch TV and listen to radio with the intent of asking critical questions at a later date.

  v  Revamping Literary activities in our schools.  

  v  Teacher helping students to form reading groups and clubs where monitored critical thinking can be done

  v  Re-drawing the school curriculum to de-emphasise aspects that do not promote healthy literary endeavors.

  v  Teachers themselves should be ready to carry out personal researches and read voraciously for the purpose of being above their students on all fronts 

  v  Engaging the students regularly in practical writing, starting from simple to complex situations.

I hope these done, we can rescue our children and by extension our society from the impending doom.

In the final analysis, we may end up producing educated students who are largely illiterate (after all, LITERACY is said to be the ability to read and write.) But how many of our public schools students can read and write in the true sense of those two skills?

I pray we will not zero in the ability to write our name alone to being educated...

My late father could write his name despite that was all he could do. And he was never seen within the four walls of a formal school setting. So, we will not label him as being literate.

  v  Wale Adenaya is an English Language Instructor.

No comments

Comments are welcome, provided they are civil, interactively engaging. Hate speech not encouraged.

Powered by Blogger.