Parents Can Promote Reasons to Write
by Dr. Jennifer Watson

I once conducted an essay-writing workshop with high school juniors. They were friendly to me, and they were glad I was there to help them write about something other than literature. Almost all of them completed the work I gave them each day.

Nonetheless, only a few students seemed to think that they would have to write very much in "real life." If only they could survive one more year of high school English, they told me.

Our students need to hear about the writing that working adults must create to earn their livings. They need to hear about those writing assignments from the people who are completing them: mom, dad, granddad, grandmom, mom’s or dad’s boss, the neighbors, the Jiffy Lube manager, and anyone else who can speak directly to students about the critical need to develop strong written communication skills.

According to the National Association of College Counselors, no matter what career area a student may prefer, good writing skills are expected. In sales, construction, engineering, medicine, the arts, and the service sector reports are compiled, orders are taken, charts are graphed and labeled and proposals are shaped — in writing.

Real-world writing can be divided into five categories. The most common include sequencing (the pattern for giving directions), describing (taking down a patient’s symptoms or itemizing what’s wrong with a car engine are examples), and comparing/contrasting (recommendation reports for purchasing equipment, for instance).

We also write to identify problems/propose solutions and to show cause and effect. Chances are, you have used one of these writing patterns in the last few days or weeks, either on the job or for a personal reason. Share that example with a student you know. Your real-world example will make some teacher’s job just a little easier.