Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Language and Technology...Attitudes about both

After posting our thoughts on a couple of language "annoyances" the other day, we readied ourselves to find examples to share here. And, of course, it didn't take very long to hear "thrown under the bus" and the "less/fewer" confusion.  We didn't have to look any further than on some news program where these both were spoken. It's really not important who the perpetrators of this language nonchalance were, but the point is they are educated, solid professionals who depend on language to be where they are. It makes one a bit disappointed to know that if these "pros" are content with being so very casual about what is right and wrong in speaking and writing, then what can we do to better elevate the usage of our English language? 

As English teachers for many years, we tried to impress upon the young folks who sat before us,  often bored or preoccupied, that the way we use our words--written and spoken--is a true reflection of the kind of person we are. One can imagine how this credo was often received! After all, we who stood up there diagramming sentences, demonstrating proper punctuation (the traditional way!), and illustrating the importance of "usage," were "out of touch" and not ready for the tidal wave of a "new" language about to explode upon the America scene.

In the modern millennium, anything goes, it seems. The explosion of language was really more an explosion of technology! First, computers showed up in classrooms and "labs" and were going to be the panacea for all of modern education's ills. But it didn't stop there. At the precise moment when we "oldsters" (read: traditionalists) started to become somewhat comfortable with all of the electronic wizardry--the whistles and bells--we were told that "platform" was out of date--basically something "new" had come along. And, of course, the kids had no trouble whatsoever making the leap to that "new and improved" electronic savior. Remember: It's the way of their generation! 

The point is, things in education, and the world in general, simply move too fast--outpacing those who are supposed to be learning and, definitely, those who are supposed to be imparting the knowledge to the folks sitting there morning after morning. And this was happening just as the phenomena known as "texting" was about to explode into our culture, changing the face of classroom/education methods, routines, and attitudes. With all of the other technology swirling about everywhere--there was/is no way of escaping it--it's not difficult to see why students--and parents for that matter--didn't want to buy into the "old way" of studying and learning about grammar, usage, and spelling.

Cell phones, instant messaging, palm pilots, Blackberries, iPods, iPhones, etc., etc. became the standard instruments in a world that had forever relied on those relics known as books. Not only did this explosion of technology put a lid on the "old way" of things, but it paved the way for "dumbing down" the curriculum. And, sadly, it shows not only in testing and performance measurements but in the everyday world where one is forced to communicate! And that is the topic of tomorrow's post. Come on back down that road then...MLA

1 comment:

  1. I often wonder if we're raising a generation of illiterates. Between the spelling and grammar mistakes and the inability to figure without a calculator, how are kids going to get by in the real world? I suppose the real world changes too.