The IMspeak debate

How do I answer the question regarding whether or not to allow students to use IM language on school related webs? I always felt that this decision should not be a district-wide policy, but rather a more informed, specialized decision coming after reflection from the teachers. I have bookmarked this post by David Warlick from which I pulled this quote. In it, he is responding to a comment on his blog by a women named Beth who ardently disagrees with using anything other than proper and complete English in all university writing, especially the school newspaper:

I respectfully disagreed with Beth, who describes herself in her blog as “..a freelance scientist, educator, artist, model and social engineer”. We tend to give writing assignments with the assumption that the pinnacle goal of all children is to become a college professor. We seem to want to train our children to grow up to be scholars. There is history to this, where there was a time when you went to college to become a scholar. Most other occupations were achieved through apprenticeships.

When Beth writes to her scientist friends, she will write in a style and with a vocabulary that is different than what and how she will write to her model friends. In writing about social engineering she will speak from the same creative energy as with art, but the voice will still be different.

My point is that we should be teaching students to communicate with audiences in order to accomplish goals. The style of communication, the vocabulary, and even the spelling will depend on the audience and the goal, and that’s what we should teach.

I have had discussions with teachers in my buildings on the topic of whether or not we should allow IMspeak on any of our online publications or wikis. The line falls in a similar spot as the one in the debate over whether students should use Citation Machine for works cited sections of research papers.

This is a great set of paragraphs here, where the need for teaching audience trumps that of enforcing overarching grammar rules. This is where the discussion should be. My humble interpretation of the future leads me to believe that those with the ability to specifically communicate with a targeted audience will be the most sought after individuals in the new economy.

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