Author’s Notes

The Little Red Writing Book is a specially designed guidebook to help students and young professionals improve their writing skills in the shortest possible time frame.

A notable decline in “classic” writing skills among students, working professionals, and laypersons is widely acknowledged. Classic writing skills are broadly defined as those skills required to compose documents consisting of multiple paragraphs. Paradoxically, with the advent of text messaging and emailing, the decline in classic writing skills comes at a time when people actually “write” more than ever before.

Reasons for the decline in classic writing skills include:

Emailing, text messaging. blogging, and microblogging. The explosion of these mediums with their speed, brevity, and informality has resulted in less emphasis being placed on vocabulary and editing.

Practice and exposure. With respect to “classic” reading and writing skills, Individuals today not only read less but also write less. We have the same amount of time, but we have more ways to spend our time, including choosing among audio-visual media, travel, and recreation.

Educational backgrounds. A smaller percentage of students today have liberal arts backgrounds (for example, history, the humanities, or linguistics) in comparison to vocational backgrounds (for example, business, computing, or engineering).

Homework. Educators give fewer written homework assignments. Teachers and instructors frequently claim that they do not have the time to adequately correct homework assignment because standards have fallen making their job more difficult.

Testing. The trend in testing favors machine-graded tests (that is, multiple choice and fill-in-the-bubble) and short-answer responses in lieu of longer essay responses.

Parental supervision/peer support. Parents do not spend as much time supervising homework. This is just as true for parents who hold master’s degrees as it is for those who hold responsible professional positions.

Scholastic orientation (secondary-school). A movement toward affective learning (emotionally-based learning) and away from cognitive learning (intellectually-based learning) has arguably shortchanged core academic skills. Emphasis on individual self-esteem, cooperative learning, and multicultural education (although meritworthy) have nonetheless caused disconnects between traditional teaching and learning.