Hot Topic – Push Button With Care

Wow – yesterday’s post generated 76 LJ comments overnight. I think that may be a record. They are fascinating to read through. Thank you everyone for sharing your opinion about this.

After dinner last night, I wrote back to her. I decided that this was indeed a “teachable moment” and if I was going to complain about emails like this, I should reach out and try to help. MySpace said Courtney was online when I sent it.

“Dear Courtney,

Are you sure that you want to write a “different” paper? Because I have a very interesting idea if you do.

Laurie Halse Anderson

PS – When you write back, please don’t use the abbreviations you use when texting your friends. I really love English, punctuation and all. Yes, I know it’s a pain, but that’s what you have to deal with if you write to an author.”

So far, she hasn’t written back. I suspect she won’t because I am certain the paper was due yesterday.

I think I need a new page on the web site. I could title it: “kan i rite 2 u?” The page will explain the no-homework policy and give kids the basic facts they want for papers as well as links to more information. And it will gently point out the differences between formal and informal writing styles.

As to ‘s post about language evolution, I am tempted to agree, but I think it is too soon to tell. The technology that is fueling these abbreviations and linguistic short-cuts is itself rapidly evolving. I don’t think the teenagers in ten years will be using the same kinds of phones or IMing to communicate, so I don’t think this language will stick around.

I predict that in ten years, the FaceBook equivalent will have groups called “u gru up in teh 00s if u rite lik dis.” And people will chuckle fondly.

Have any of you shared this with your students? What did they say?
Any last thoughts?

How not to write an author

Teachers – here is an email that came into my MySpace account on Sunday afternoon. I have not altered it one bit except to put quotations around it.

“hi my names courtney. and 1st i would like to say thanks so much for aprovin me. :] i have this english report and we had to pick an author to write about and i chose u. do u have anything interestin bout u that i could put in there any cool facts or anything. i really want my paper to be different. if u could message me back today that would be great thanks so much bye”

This is very typical of the email I get. Sadly. (edited to add: Courtney claims to be a high school freshman on her page.)

My inclination is to hit the delete key. My strong-worded “I won’t do your homework” policy is everywhere. With just the tiniest amount of effort, the student can find all kinds of information about me – like on my website.

And for the record – the use of “u” for “you” and the total disregard for capitalization and punctuation (fine for texting friends, but not fine in this context), not to mention the other grammar errors – make my teeth hurt.

What do you think about this? Am I being appallingly old-fashioned and cranky? If this were your student, how would you want me to respond? I am not looking to make Courtney feel stupid or ignorant, but I want to be the village auntie and tell her it is time to raise her standards.

Or I could just hit the delete key.

What do you think?