I was reading the newspaper and ran across a quote that gave me pause and got me thinking. (Oh, geez, not again!)
Sir Ken Robinson, a British educator who moved to Los Angeles after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his contributions to education, was saying how schools today crank out students in an assembly-line fashion like Model T cars. We don’t let students discover their innate talents or what they love to do so they can be fulfilled in their life and career.
Sir Ken said with our focus on standardized tests we are “fostering a culture of conformity and compliance, and we’re undermining the quality of teaching. We’re reducing teachers to a delivery system when really, teaching is an art form.”
What does this have to do with writing, you ask? For one thing, such “skill and drill” can kill the desire to write beautiful prose. But more to the point, all writing – even this piece – has the option of being either a delivery system or an art form.
I often get the most feedback on my Tips of the Day when I hop up on my soapbox and speak, er, write from the heart, rather than spell out the dry definitions and categorize the parts of speech. (Those I generally have to look up, and I include them mainly to look like I know what I’m talking about.)
But think about it. When you are writing your weekly status report, you are teaching somebody what you did and why it’s important. You can do this in terse bullet points, or you can make it interesting – even exciting – so the reader will want to open the file to see the results of what you did last week.
How about when you are writing a scope of work or field development plan? The facilities should come alive in the reader’s mind as you describe all the parts and schedules and economics. And when you’re capturing best practices and rules of thumb, you can include the true stories about the successes and failures that put a face on the lessons learned, making them come alive.
When you are writing, you are teaching. And teaching should be an art form, not a delivery system.
Profound Quote of the Day:
“It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.”
– Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss philosopher, 1821-1881