Recently I was approached by a potential client about coming in to train their staff (college educated young professionals) on business writing. I was excited about this opportunity and provided a potential course outline with some fundamental topics such as how to identify your audience, write task-based procedures, and set up a first draft. My jaw hit the floor when the prospect said, “This all looks good, but I need someone to come in to teach grammar and punctuation.”
The sad truth is that our educational system today is a mess, putting managers behind the eight-ball, saddling young people with huge debts, and imposing a heavy tax burden—and all with little to show for it. Not long ago, I worked with a great young creative writer with an advanced degree. He was full of terrific ideas and produced copy full of basic punctuation errors.
The educational system as it stands today came out of the needs of the post-war world to provide good quality standardized literacy and math skills needed in the world of the 20th century. It no longer does that, and also seems to be coming up short in teaching the self-motivation and critical thinking skills needed for 21st-century work.
I’m not a teacher and don’t pretend to know what the answer is—but as a citizen I would love to see a “moon shot” program to rethink the educational system from pre-K to post-grad.