Should Literacy and Writing be Encouraged More in American Education?
Debate Rounds (4)
Frankly, we're on a literacy downfall. The disregard for language generally starts in middle school and furthers into high school, in which the lack of encouragement and writing tasks only make this injustice easier.
Academic writing is a crucial skill that is being forgotten in our standard education, one that is not only affecting the illiterate students, but also those who proficiently use lingual skills. Without polishing that can be achieved through mandated academic writing, those who do care about their language skills are neglected the opportunity of constructive criticism.
If we want to increase our focus on writing and literacy, we would have to propose to change the focus of our education system. But before we make any changes we must weigh the costs and benefits of an increase focus on writing and literacy.
What is the purpose of our education system? A couple of things come to mind.
Education helps create educated population and thus, an educated voter base. Winston Churchill once said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." And he is right. In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 60% of our population knew that Ukraine was once Soviet Union. How can voters support the politician with the most reasonable course of action in response to the Ukrainian Crisis without knowing simple basic history of Ukraine? Does a voter need to have written an analysis of Sal"s character in On the Road to do this? No. What that voter needs is extensive knowledge of the history of Ukraine and Russia.
An economic argument for education is that education drives economic growth. According to a research paper by Eric A. Hanushek, Stanford University, and Ludger Woessmann, University of Munich, this occurs in three ways.
"First, education can increase the human capital in the labor force, which increases labor productivity and thus transitional growth toward a higher equilibrium level of output (as in augmented neoclassical growth theories, cf. Mankiw et al. (1992)). Second, education can increase the innovative capacity of the economy, and the new knowledge on new technologies, products, and processes promotes growth (as in theories of endogenous growth, cf., e.g., Lucas (1988), Romer (1990), Aghion and Howitt (1998)). Third, education can facilitate the diffusion and transmission of knowledge needed to understand and process new information and to successfully implement new technologies devised by others, which again promotes economic growth (cf., e.g., Nelson and Phelps, 1966; Benhabib and Spiegel, 1994)."
In short, education will increase GDP and thus, the standard of living in our country.
But what kind of education drives our economy. English? Maybe a little. The STEM field creates growth. Where would Mark Zuckerberg be without computer programming or Henry Ford without engineering? The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields drives growth, not English.
Imagine a world without the STEM fields. There would be no debate.org because there would be no computers and Internet. You would live in tent and have to walk 20 miles everyday to get water. Where would literacy and writing be without the STEM field? Most of us wouldn't be able read because the lack a books (no printing press) and the lack of time (most of our time would be spent walking 20 miles to get water).
Finally, parents want to prepare our children for future job market. The top 13 paying majors (in mid career salary) are all part of the STEM fields. English literature is 59th. 
Keep in mind that I am not arguing that literacy and writing are useless. I hate it when teenagers write "lol", confuse where and were, and spell their name like M1L3S. We need to read books like The Jungle to understand the problems in society. But the fact is we have bigger issues to handle. And the STEM fields hold the answers to these problems. We cannot shift our focus
E-mail format has its own standards that are rarely known in the professional world. How would Eric A. Hanushek of properly conveyed his point without academic writing skills? What would debate.org be if nobody knew how to formally write and convey an argument? I'm not implying that everyone needs to know the intricate mechanisms behind the English language, but our society has virtually slaughtered verbal communication.
Literacy and writing also improve communication as a whole. With greater communication, ideas are shared easily and confusion is easily avoidable. How would we know what our politicians desire to do if they could not properly write a speech?
dkyana forfeited this round.
bman7720 forfeited this round.
First off, I am not suggesting that we focus all of our attention on the STEM field. I was just showing the value of the STEM field. But even if I was suggesting that, should we stop because
the STEM is "not exactly a walk in the park?" The fact is the United States has fallen behind other countries in Math and Science. According to a OCED PISA survey, the US falls below the OCED average in both Math and Science. Our STEM fields are lagging, and we need to do better.
My opponent claims that "our society has virtually slaughtered verbal communication," but gives no evidence to support the claim. Has communication broken down to a point where corporations and businesses can no function properly? I would argue that this isn"t at all the case. In fact, according to recent New York Times article, corporate profits are at the highest point in 85 years.
My opponent states literacy and writing increase communication, which is true. But the STEM field also increase communication to. Phones now allow us to talk to people halfway across the world. Email, Facebook, and Facetime. These are all products of the STEM field.
bman7720 forfeited this round.
dkyana forfeited this round.
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