SVSU students should be encouraged to compose written works at a collegiate level, rather than utilize diction understood by less educated individuals.
We should not “dumb down” our communicating, but rather use our language to elevate our understanding.
As a society, we push students from kindergarten until they graduate college too learn to read better but we are not as persistent when it comes to writing.
During my time at SVSU my professors have always encouraged me to write to the reading level of the user, professor or person reading the work I was writing.
This seems self-explanatory.
If you are writing to a professor, you can use more wordy language than those who are in high school, or young kids.
By setting this as the standard, we have created a disconnect where students are never reading things above their reading level.
For me, when I read an article that uses words I don’t know, I look them up and learn how to use the word in context.
When we encourage students to dumb down their writing, we discourage learning.
There are times when it might be appropriate to write using simple language, like when you are writing a text message.
However, academic writing is different. The goal is to grow and build your creative mind.
Yet we still “dumb down” to lower reading levels in many academic settings.
We have set the bar so low as a society that the average person has a seventh grade reading level (and most professors now are saying that has dropped to a fifth grade reading level).
As a university, I believe it is our call to set the bar higher than the average reading level, rather than at that average level.
I’m not saying we should write third grade textbooks to a high school reading level.
Rather, we should write at a college level to college kids, instead of expecting them to have such a low reading level.
By doing this we push them to learn new words and understand the documents they are studying.
My professor for Advanced Rhetorical Theory expects us to read Plato and understand Plato’s works.
It is considered an advanced reading level material, but that does not negate its importance for understanding.
There are times where I don’t understand the readings and times where I do.
If I don’t understand, I look it up and break it down into smaller pieces and read summaries.
Right now, Wordle is the game everyone is playing.
You must use your word puzzle skills and think outside the box.
This game illustrates that people are hungry to learn and grow their vocabulary.
My Facebook feed is full of friends posting their scores in the morning and the comments back and forth about how everyone did.
I am a big proponent of word games. One of my current favorites is called, “A Little Wordy.”
It’s a new two-player board game by the same people who made the popular “Exploding Kittens” game and inspires creative word writing.
Choosing to “write down” and not push towards something better only encourages the reading level of our society to drop lower and lower.
I had a professor tell me once that I must assume everyone cannot read or understand what I write.
This can be a true assumption.
However, am I also supposed to assume that they are incapable of learning to read and write better than the level they are at right now?
This is what we see in news stories, articles, etc.
We write so “low” about topics that need more precise language to convey the seriousness or technical expertise of the topic.
I urge professors and students to set higher expectations for each other.
I encourage them to write at a level slightly above the reading level of the audience they are writing to.
Otherwise, we are just contributors towards a continually dropping reading level in our society.
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