Just who are we writing for?

September 19, 2007

I found this article about how to write boring literature. And I was really thinking about the different types of writing that we are required to do at different times in our academic endeavors. The author claims that writing in science should be flowery and entertaining but I think that she misses the point.

Just as you dress differently for different occasions i.e tuxedos for a prom. You also write differently for different audiences. Obviously this blog can be considered a somewhat informal writing environment, almost as if I was writing to a friend. Plus I am using I and all of those other words I have been trained to avoid in formal writing?

As a formally trained scientist (my fist Bachelors was chemistry) I found this article kind of insulting, if you are writing a scientific article you are strictly conveying information without all of that “fluff”. But this article did get me thinking about how will writing change with the implementation of distance education.
How will we convey this change of voice if we go to a completely distance education environment? Face to face actions socialize us to act a certain way, will using a formal voice in all correspondences teach students when to use different ways of writing.

So in teaching do we just teach content or do we also teach a way of acting or thinking? I believe that we also socialize people to change the mannerisms and methods that they use to convey what they think. Distance education will need to address these problems and other such as the spelling that text messaging uses and reinforces. But if learning by obserbving the mannerisms and actions of instructors works on a face to face basis shouldn’t the same hold true for distance ed?


One Response to “Just who are we writing for?”

  1. Kim Dearing Says:

    I agree with you – writing style does vary, and should, depending on what you are writing. I love teaching students to write short stories, and part of that process is how to construct an ending that isn’t predictable or contrived. However, I also teach journalism- where students are taught to use the inverted pyramid (most important facts first). Many news readers never finish an entire article, so it is critical to get the those facts out as quickly as possible. All students should be able to adapt to what an instructor requires.

    Insofar as mannerisms, I question how this might change in the future, too. Being exposed to the etiquette of a real-time classroom debate has been of great value to me, as I am often on committees where folks disagree. Can distance education provide this? There are certainly lots of other places kids socially interact besides the classroom setting, so is it really that important? I wish I knew.

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