My son told me he wrote a post for my blog. He’s written for this blog before, so I read his post with excitement. But then I had to tell him it wouldn’t work. I’m not sure it’s that nice,” I told him. “Or useful.”
Then I read a review of the book Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science will Transform Schools and Business in the 21st Century. The author, Kathy Davidson, was horrified when her students at Duke wrote poorly constructed, failing papers and returned to their dorm to write brilliant blog posts.
But instead of berating the students for laziness or illiteracy, Ms. Davidson began to question the whole form of the research paper. “What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process?” She adds: “What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”
After studying the situation, Davidson concluded, “Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers.”
Davidson is part of a new trend of academics who recognize that the way we trained management for the last century is not appropriate for the current century. Stanford’s writing program found that students had learned excellent writing skills from the brutal, quick-to-click readers online. And journalism schools are teaching graduate students to evaluate their own writing on social sharing numbers rather than GPAs.
All this is to say that I decided my son’s blog post is not as bad as I initially thought. Virginia Hoffman, writing in the New York Times, warns that when we criticize kids for not writing in a way that we like to read, “we bind ourselves to the world as it is.”
So here’s the post my son wrote:
Stuff I hear in mom’s coaching calls. And other calls in general.
1. Mom seems to talk about how marriages are totally failing
2. She also talks about kids and how divorces affect them and constantly refers to a family that has kids moving around between two households every weeks and carrying backpacks with all their belongings in them
3. Mom also screams at people a lot and tells them how bad they are at business, sales, etc.
4. One time mom recommended that someone goes out with their friends and use drugs. (great way to get arrested mom.)
5. As I just wrote 4 Mom attempted to justify her reason for suggesting someone use drugs.
Solution for number 1
According to me. If you don’t have kids then divorce is okay as long as you try everything in your power to work out your problems. If you do have kids, wait for them to leave the house, then you can get a divorce. In the meantime just suck it up. Maybe along the way you’ll work it out.
Solution for number 2
See number 1
Solution for number 3
I feel that mom should be calmer when coaching and stop screaming and telling people how awful they are
Solution for number 4
It’s very bad to tell people to use drugs, even when they are in a horrible situation. Don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad. Not even if Mom recommends them.
Solution number 5
No one should attempt to justify suggesting drugs to someone. Mom is trying to tell me she was making a point in order to show them how messed up their life was.
Story time number 1: Car rides with mom.
During a long car ride Mom typically has multiple coaching calls. And she ends up forgetting a few of them. So that completely screws up the schedule, which is very delicate. And that’s annoying. Especially if you want to talk to her or need her help during violin lesson.
Story time number 2: Traveling with Mom.
Mom has other people schedule her stuff for her, but that doesn’t always prevent errors. So at an airport we ended up getting there three hours late because Mom’s alarm didn’t go off. Then when we got there it turned out we were there three days early so we had to wait five hours in the airport.
Story time number 3: Resort and most embarrassing moment of my life.
We were staying in Vail on our way to a Colorado paleontology gig, which was totally awful by the way. So we stayed in Vail for a few days. When we went on the chair lift up to a restaurant, I ended up for some reason throwing up everywhere while Mom was on a coaching call, and I had to suck it up. Not literally.
And then, another day we were walking to a gluten-free pizza place that had a bowling alley in it which was awesome, but Mom had a huge call with an investor and she was dropping a million f bombs a second. So we had to stay outside at a soccer area while she was screaming at this person.
Then someone with a stroller full of baby Chihuahuas came along and I pet them for a little. When the lady asked where my mom was, I pointed to her and Mom was screaming f-you, and the lady said, Oh. Then I pet the dogs for five more minutes and she left.