Monday, October 1, 2012

I disagree because...

It seems that being a good writer improves your knowledge and growth in all areas. 

You must read this article:

How do your kids express themselves?

Mary wants a cell phone. She's twelve. Most of the girls she knows have cell phones, and when you dig down to the bottom of her arguments, or even when you scratch the surface, she wants a cell phone because everyone else has one. 

Besides the fact that everyone has one, she wants to call people, she says. And text.

Now, Mary HATES using the telephone. She hates making phone calls. She will try to get anyone to make a phone call for her, even her little siblings who are not stellar with their phone conversation skills. 

So really, she wants to text, and she wants to text because everyone else texts. I cannot count the number of discussions we have had on this topic.

Well, this article gave me pause, and fuel to my argument that the cell phone needs to wait.

I don't want Mary to start texting. Texting by necessity makes for bad grammar and bad language skills and poor communication, and if these skills have not been established already, before texting begins, they'll never come. English through texting will be how Mary learns to express herself. 

Doesn't this article make sense when you think about texting and chatting online and even email? 

How many people use connecting words and phrases like: Although, I disagree, and yet?

How many people use complete sentences when they text?

And it seems that this ability to express yourself fluently and effectively effects your ability to learn everything. 

I am going on the hunt now. I'm going to watch my kids' writing for these conjunctions, for the ability to connect thoughts together and use complex sentences. I'm also going to listen to the way they talk, and I think, for a time anyway, we will use prompts like these at the dinner table, and anyone speaking will be required to use them:

“I agree/disagree with ___ because …”
“I have a different opinion …”
“I have something to add …”
“Can you explain your answer?”
I got these from the article, and I'll probably add some onto this, but think of what we've lost in society today as our speaking has grown more and more informal!

Mary and I had a long conversation yesterday. I explained the vision Sam and I have for her—what we want for her in this life and the next. I explained that when we make decisions like this, they aren't based on the here and now, they are based on our vision for her. It is hard for her to have a grand vision for herself, and she understood that. I compared her to a tomato plant. She might want to become the tallest, fattest tomato plant in the garden, whereas Sam and I don't care about her size, but we want her to bear fruit. We want her to make lots of tomatoes!

It was a fabulous conversation, because she went from being angry to thinking about what she'd like to do with her life and how she's going to get there. And she was able to let go of the idea of a cell phone (for now—or maybe just for that night).

Now, I'm off to make a poster with these prompts. I'm excited and a little scared to find out exactly how my children express themselves. It's probably far worse than I think!

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