July 04, 2005

Out of YOUR Pocket

James Joyner posts about bad writing. Specifically, he posts about productivity lost due to poor writing in public sector jobs. He's quoting from this, an AP source, part of which I will repeat.

States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.

The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.
Wow, but not really.

I think this is going to lapse into anecdote, so the rest will be in the extended section.

I can't say that the writing I encountered in the public sector (nearly 5 years of service, thank you) was any worse than that I sometimes have to review in the private sector. The main difference? My company knows (clients do too) that it's wise to have me review important proposals before the leave the premises, electronically or otherwise.

To that point - when I was a college senior, a professor in one of the final classes I had to take to get my Bachelor of Science in Communications Management administered a grammar test to the class. The result? A lot of bad scores. I actually scored higher than anyone who'd been put to the test previously, a fact the professor made sure to point out to the class before he sent me home for two class weeks while he taught basic writing.

Upon my return, he pointed out to the class that it'd be wise to have me review their work before they turned it in. Nothing like being the grammar nerd. At least I was the grammar nerd in a short skirt.

Whose fault is it that most Americans have poor writing skills? My mother, ever the English teacher, would lament the lack of training in key grades (probably all of them up until what she taught - high school seniors). That's probably true. I also think that people don't read nearly as much as previous generations. There's TV, video games, etc. Maybe that'll make a turnaround with online content, but in order for that to happen, the online content will need to be bereft of "u c that" etc.

As my music theory professor, Dr. David Goza, said in class one day, "You need to know all of the rules to break them." Good advice that applies equally to chord progression and grammar. (As she ends her post with a sentence fragment).


Posted by hln at July 4, 2005 03:35 PM | General News | TrackBack

More specifically, you need to know the purpose the rules are trying to accomplish in order to know WHEN breaking them is the better alternative.

Posted by: Harvey at July 6, 2005 09:34 AM
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