teenagersI approach this article with a great deal of trepidation. I’m going to explain why kids write so well and I’m pitching this article to teachers – a very bold move indeed. I also need to mention that my wife’s a primary school teacher and is hanging (note I didn’t drop the ‘g’) off every word. So with the courage of a first time bungy jumper here I go – deep breath now.

‘Why kids write so well’ by Denis Masseni and with some support from Professor Geoffrey Blainey – sorry but I had to bring in a heavy hitter.

In an article titled ‘Even footballers speak well these days’, Professor Blainey argues that the biggest changes over the past 50 years is the astonishing improvement in pronunciation and grammar which is due to television, radio and films, not from what’s been taught in schools.

He said it not me – don’t shoot the messenger.

He went on to say “earlier generations used to say things like ‘them days’ and ‘all of youses’. I’m not criticising them, that’s what they learned in childhood, but that old grammar has virtually vanished,” he said. “Even when you listen to the footballers today, they all speak well.” Proffesor Blainey, who is among 100 national Living Treasures nominated by the National Trust, said a lot of history was now taught through TV.

My argument is along similar lines to Blainey’s but I’m looking at writing rather than speaking.
SMS, MSN, facebook, MySpace and the web in general has exposed our children to more text than a general school education ever could. And the real beauty of this era is that the majority of content is either self generated or generated by their social network. So while in bygone days children would vegetate in front of the T.V letting content wash over them, today they create it and it’s all in the written form.

Australians aged 16 and 17 are spending an average of 3½ hours every day on the internet, new research reveals, with social networking the overwhelming favourite reason.
The figures, included in an 800-person survey by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, show that children aged eight to 11 years are spending 1.3 hours a day online, while 12 to 17-year-olds average 2.9 hours.
http://www.theage.com.au/national/social-networking-lures-teenagers-to-internet-20090708-ddew.html

I can’t defend the grammatical structuring but at least they are writing and they’re writing very creatively whilst doing it in a few crisp sentences at a time.

My 2 teenage boys introduced me to a site called ‘my life is average’ (http://mylifeisaverage.com/). The title doesn’t sound inspiring but I assure it’s just a bit of self deprecating fun. I must warn you that it is a teenage site with a very mild and occasional tinge of blue. The contributors (USA) are teenagers and it’s hilarious. Here’s 3 examples

Today, I was texting my mom because she’s been having a rough couple of days. In one of the texts I told her “I heart you.” She responded with, “I internal organ you too.”

Today, during my history class, someone threw up on the teacher’s shirt. After he sent her to the nurses office, he turned his back to the class, very slowly unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off (he had a black one under it), then dropped it in the trash can. He turned his head around, said ‘Don’t laugh,’ then spun around completely. He had a Batman shirt on. I high-fived him. I knew I liked him for a reason.

Today, I was reading the back of my water bottle. On it, it read “This product does not contain nuts.” Thanks for clearing that up.

I don’t know if I’ve convinced anyone as to why kids write so well but unlike Blainey’s comment where he doesn’t attribute credit to schools, I do. There are many wonderful examples where blogs and wiki’s are integrated into the curriculum teaching children how these social tools can be used for knowledge sharing. But I guess you’d expect me to say that being married to a school teacher – is she still there?

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