Imagination at work is a mysterious process: indistinct picture of girl wearing large glasses

This is Your Brain on Writing

Writing: Motivating Your Students

Why Write? Why Teach Writing?

How do you as a teacher present a reasonable perspective to your Grade 2 and 3 students on the benefits of learning to write? How do you explain to your students that:

  1. Writing is useful and necessary right now and in the future;
  2. Writing can be stimulating and fun;
  3. Writing will be required for you right here and now to achieve the best results in your education;
  4. Writing will be required in order to be successful in your adult life particularly if you choose a career in business;
  5. Writing can be part of an interesting and rewarding profession;
  6. Writing  can be intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding;
  7. Writing can lead to fame and fortune, for example J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter books, and authors of well-known comics, etc.
Student writing in notebook with pencil
Revealing the joys of writing to your students

I will leave the “explaining” part up to you as the teacher (LoL).  Is that a reasonable expectation on my part?

Your students may ask if writing is still a desirable/necessary skill today? You could explain to them that:

  1. Writing will almost certainly be critical to their future ability to earn a living;
  2. Writing might actually become a conscious career choice for some of them;
  3. There are actually quite a few careers for which writing, proof-reading and editing capabilities are critical skills;
  4. Writing could be part of a larger creative project for them within a broader work or artistic setting;
  5. Although a novel concept for an eight or nine year old, writing is still today a dominant communications skill, even if only for texting on a smart phone.

We as adults know from personal experience that those are still the facts today, even with AI looming on the horizon!

Writing Issues Today: And What About AI?

Today mentions of AI are everywhere.  AI is promoted as the next big disruptive technology.  And writing is one of the areas with which the disruption caused by AI is most associated.  So writing as a personal activity may seem to have an uncertain future.  Who needs humans to write if computers can do it for us? Writing is tedious, challenging hard work.  Is it not better to out-source our writing to machines? What seems to have been lost in this discussion is the fact that we as humans still need to write concise, correct and accurate instructions for our “robot” to direct our AI tool in its writing tasks.  And then we need to be able to read, edit, correct and manipulate that AI-created output to suit our needs.

I came across this posting which gave me cause for reflection:

Sac State English students tackle real-world technical writing through iFixIt project

Please note that these two talented young ladies were English students, not engineering students! I cannot imagine how AI could possibly take over such an endeavour in a wholesale manner and replace Hannah Wicklund and Eleonora Polovina in what they have produced.  Yes, AI could be used effectively to assist in the writing process.  No doubt about that.  But the driving creative and conceptualizing forces were two talented young women!

Sacramento State students Hannah Wicklund, left, and Eleonora Polovina show the battery box they repaired as part of the iFixIt project, through which students documented their repair work and gained valuable technical writing skills. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)
Sacramento State students Hannah Wicklund, left, and Eleonora Polovina show the battery box they repaired as part of the iFixIt project, through which students documented their repair work and gained valuable technical writing skills. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Here’s what I find interesting and significant about this article as a prediction of a likely future for your young students’ writing requirements:

  1. Here is an important area being highlighted where writing is mentioned as a career choice: technical and instructional materials creation;
  2. This is a project featuring young women in a technical (STEM) area where in years past, males have predominated;
  3. With the tremendous importance of technology in every facet of modern life, the demand for training and instructional materials can only increase dramatically;
  4. This is an area which begs for/demands multi-media content.  So not only writing but also other creative disciplines such as graphics, video and design will need to be employed;
  5. In today’s Internet-dominated environment, writing skills will need to be part of a multi-discipline approach which includes web-based technological tools, including AI;
  6. This kind of work will need to done for a wide range of clients, from large multi-nationals for their products and services, as well as for more local requirements, be it your municipality or even you as teacher in your classroom;

And then I remember the line from a song from popular some years ago “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!”

Pink Floyd light wave graphic on brain

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