Editor's note: This is a guest post from Jeff Rubin, who founded National Punctuation Day in 2004. NPD is holiday that encourages worldwide literacy and is celebrated in schools, businesses with activities and contests. Encourage your students to enter the 2011 NPD Punctuation Paragraph Contest. Details are available here.
Well, why bother to teach grammar and spelling, either? After all, with all the texting and tweeting going on these days, is it really necessary for students to learn these basic skills?
Believe it or not, these questions are being asked by parents and students as we move further into the digital age and away from books, newspapers, and magazines. These questions are not, however, being asked by college professors, who bristle when students cannot communicate effectively with their pens or keyboards.
And they are certainly not being asked by the hiring managers and human-resources professionals at America's public- and private-sector companies, who lament the lack of communication skills among their entry-level employees and complain about not being able to promote from within.
I started National Punctuation Day in 2004 because I was concerned that our language skills are declining. Test scores confirm my suspicions. A study in 2007 by California State University-East Bay revealed that nearly 60 percent of incoming freshmen needed remedial English classes. Nationwide, 28 percent of incoming college freshmen enrolled in remedial classes, according to a 2004 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. This is unconscionable.
We're losing more of our language every year. There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle last year in which parents questioned the need to teach their children how to spell. Unbelievable! With this attitude, it won't be "no child left behind," but rather "all children left behind."
All professions depend on good writing skills. When you're talking on the telephone, people form their opinion of you by your voice. In person, it's your appearance. With correspondence, people form their opinion of you based on your writing skills. If you can't spell and you can't string a few words together to make a literate sentence, your job advancement will be hindered.
People judge us by the way we present ourselves - how we act, how we look, how we speak and how we
write. When we are professional in all of these areas, we get our feet in the door for our choice of college, scholarship, job, promotion or business deal. If you're unprofessional in any of these areas, it can cost you.
Why punctuation? Our careers and our lives depend on it.
You can reach Jeff at jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.