Writing is Important-er-er

Importanter-er

Spelling and Grammar: Important, Writing: Important-er-er

Many of my blog posts and LinkedIn writings contain spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. I love these little gems of reality. I need an editor of course. When I worked with an educational team or at the university I relied on a group of colleagues for peer feedback. Sometimes students volunteered to help with my less than fluent writing. The thing is, I love writing and I love writing wildly.

I love writing, not for the act of writing itself, but for the expression. Writing, like my digital art endeavors and videos, provides an opportunity to say something. Let a thought out into the wilderness. Unfortunately writing comes with a cost. It is not pure expression.

Too many short sentences in a row breaks a readers concentration. Too many long sentences slow down the pace too much. Repetitiously using the same sentence style drives folks batty. Referencing obscure puns while starting each sentence off with the same sound does not help the reader echo-locate their way through a passage. You said the the same article twice. An article in a sentence makes the writer a bat without flight…..

These are sneaky grammatical and spelling issues. Well, “the the” is really a typo. Typos and spelling errors are actually the sneakiest of writing stumps. Especially with spellcheck. Or is it spell check? Who knows? Spellcheck doesn’t spell check or check the spelling of spell and check. Does it matter? In a recent letter of interest to a position in equity education advocacy that I would dearly love to have – “the the” happened. It was supposed to be “to the”. I only noticed after my nerves calmed down post-application submission. Hopefully the-the reader “to the” letter will give-give me-me a break-break. Now I sound like juvenile. This letter mattered to me. So spellcheck or spell check – it does matter. Except on my blog and on my personal social media. Here I write for the wilderness.

Why do I love to write if my product is full of errors and open to so much criticism? Why do I love to write when my colleagues and friends have become inhibited in their writing? I think, in part, this was due to a teacher of English I met as a sign language interpreter. To them writing was artwork. Make mistakes. Discover gems in mistakes. Let students write wildly. Let the writing roam the wilderness for a few months. We can peer edit later, once the wilderness starts to pale.

I loved this philosophy and yet I hear friends state that they loathe writing. My belief is that this comes from the systematic education of our industrial age education system. Writing became, less art, more system. Education targets perfection in writing over art. Since when did perfection, grammatical soundness, or correct (and arbitrary) spelling have anything to do with expression?

Real English used by native speakers does not exist within the idealized written form. So why do we strive, and beat ourselves up for failing to achieve, the idealized form of English? “Standard Written English” is a consensus form of English. Over the years folks at the upper echelons of academic society (publishers, writers, educators and others) developed this consensus agreement of what is clear and proper for English writing. The idea is that a uniform standard of communication can be understood by all speakers and users of English regardless of differences in dialect, pronunciation, and usage.

My objection to this idea is that the consensus version of Standard Written English creates a class barrier. English educators, untrained in taking a social justice approach to sharing Standard Written English, often lay the foundations that inhibit potential writers. Happily, new training and conferences are slowly correcting this issue.

Recently, attending a social justice for teaching English style conference, I listened to presenters urge teachers to follow the critical reflection; six “re-s” of reflecting, reconsidering, refusing, reconceptualizing, rejuvenating, and reengaging as applied to lessons. As APPLIED to lessons! How does your writing assignment (not classroom culture but CURRICLUM!) support the diverse student body culturally? Does your approach to sharing Standard Written English perpetuate class barriers? Or break them down? Teaching for social justice is not just an act of student reflection, acceptance, and respect, but an act of teacher reflection, acceptance, and respect.

Let us not disenfranchise writers. Please do not oppress the writings of diverse people. Let them write into the wild – on blogs, LinkedIn, and other sources. Then, cautiously and with respect for the diverse wild creature of self-expression, show writers how to create and domesticate their works into the docile Standard Written English version of their writing. Grammatically correct sentences are important. Spelling is important. Writing is important-er-er.

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ORATE Conference!

I don’t know how this happened but I almost forgot I am presenting at the Oregon Association for Teacher Educators (ORATE) conference! This is something I should be looking forward to but I think I was a little overwhelmed with thinking about the Mexico City trip which I have withdrawn from.

I am actually looking forward to this conference as it is located at the college where I studied for my undergraduate degree. Western Oregon University! Home of the wolves. I think. It will be slightly eerie visiting the campus as I had professors who have since passed on or left the campus. The change in make-up with be interesting to experience.

Dr. Doris McEwen - Keynote for Orate.

Dr. Doris McEwen – Keynote for Orate.

Looking forward to the panel presentation and having a great time with fellow teacher educators from Oregon! Although…the keynote is a mystery to me. Clearly my distraction has cost me valuable pre-conference research time!

Hopefully she is as engaging as an upcoming lecture I am attending by Dr. Jacqueline Temple, a recent retiree from Portland State University who I had as an instructor last year. She probably won’t be as exciting as the social comedian W. Kamau Bell who I am going to see in March. Then again the academic language often forbids the raw persuasive power of a bit of comedy.

Ah…I am thankful once again for diversity in discourse styles….

Off to ISTE!

ISTE 2013 San Antonio June 23-26

I am off to ISTE! I absolutely love this conference. This year I hope to tak advantage of the conference to launch a few projects.

The first project relates to this blog; I want to get some guest game-players in here. Hopefully I can get my first QuestGuest to play on Friday but my main goal is to recruit a few people for future shows using Google Hangouts.

Last week I tried starting a book review vlog series and ran into a problem of time and organization. It is quite easy to discuss chapters from a book but editing things together takes a larger chunk of time which I lack. One of my goals is to ask more experienced vloggers how they handle their workflow and get shows posted regularly.

Finally the last project, and perhaps most important, getting my dissertation topic off the ground. My dissertation relates to games for learning in some way but the details have remained fluid. Back when I thought I might end up in a classroom again I thought I could do a case study. Now I am thinking about the potential for an empirical study of WoW in Schools across the classrooms adopting this curriculum in some form. Hopefully I get a chance to talk with folks more intimate with the curriculum and get their ideas.

Conference Schedule

Things are looking interesting for the next few weeks. Several conferences are coming up and I hope to make myself productive by sharing my experiences.

Screen Shot 2013-02-12 at 3.36.49 PMConferences:

  • Globalization and Diversity in Education in Vancouver, Washington
  • AACTE Annual Conference in Orland Florida

As part of the AACTE trip I will be participating in an Intel Teach Summit before the conference. Fun times ahead!