On Monday I had two essay drafts, one journal entry, and a blog post for another class due. As you can imagine, I declared the weekend my “writing weekend” and strictly stuck to that theme. However, I believe I might be in need of some more creative names because I don’t believe this will be the last one in store for the semester. My load this semester includes three sociology classes and this writing class, but all are heavily focused on writing. The first week of classes I can’t remember the amount of times I heard professors lecture on the importance of good writing skills, and how they intended to improve these over the course of the semester.
As college students, we are constantly being reminded of the importance of writing – either for grad school or our resumes or our careers. It is important to be able to produce something that communicates messages effectively and hopefully eloquently. Just think, most of us in this class probably are here because of these things.
This drive for getting better at writing is perfect evidence to support the reading I have done for class. In Deborah Brandt’s book Literacy and Learning, she presents the idea of writing as a economic practice. Writing is a form of labor. People write in order to achieve something – profit, good grades, work recognition, or a number of other things. She contrasts writing with reading and points out how reading is done for moral purposes. A reader is concerned with learning about something, not producing something.
Think of how much writing we produce for classes and our motivations for doing it. And now think of that in contrast to reading. So many people never do the readings for class, but hardly anyone doesn’t turn in a paper. We aren’t directly measured on our reading ability most of the time. Brandt writes, “Reading usually cannot participate unadulterated in systems of exchange in the same way as writing.” We exchange our writing for a grade, but rarely do we exchange reading for a grade.
In answer to Brandt’s last question, “How equipped are we now for sustaining a nation of readers?” I think we have to be, or at least that is the message we keep getting.