In his groundbreaking book Amusing Ourselves to Death, critic and educator Neil Postman discusses society’s shift from what he deems the Age of Typography to the Age of Show Business—that is, a change from the importance of words to the importance of television and other visual media.
According to Postman, the decline of writing began as early as the nineteenth century with Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph and continued on with radio, movies, and television. This resulted in a society that is heavily dependent on pictures and has become even more so with computers and smartphones, devices that grew popular after Postman wrote his book.
If the prominence of wavelengths has surpassed words in Western culture, then why does education, particularly homeschool education, place such importance on writing well? Why is composition so important for homeschool students? Why does so much homeschool writing curriculum exist?
The answer is that, despite our reliance on visual media and Postman’s pessimism, writing hasn’t quite died out—but the ability to write well is certainly dwindling.
Colleges and universities used to assume that a student would meet a certain standard of grammar and composition. Now, however, introductory courses for grammar and writing are offered by the same institutions and are often required for many students who don’t quite make the grade when starting their higher education.
In the Age of Typography, writing well was a fact of life; now, it’s a talent that sets one apart because the Age of Show Business rewards visual media over the written word. Print hasn’t been buried completely, so good writers rise above and make themselves heard—which is where homeschool students come into the picture.
A student does not need to be homeschooled in order to write well, but homeschool students have a few built-in advantages that enable them to learn how to write with more ease. Below are some of the reasons why homeschool students have an edge in this subject.
Writing can be difficult, but homeschool curriculum is up to the challenge.
This one is pretty much a no-brainer—if writing is difficult, and your homeschool student is able to write well, then they’ve already risen above their peers in this area. Homeschool writing curriculum like Essentials in Writing breaks down the writing process to make it digestible for students. It’s been created by teachers and experts who know how students struggle with writing and have therefore made the process as painless as possible.
Writing takes time, and homeschool students have more time.
My husband teaches sixth-grade English, and while he does the best he can with the resources he has, the simple fact is that he cannot devote the same amount of time to each student that a homeschool parent can give to their student. Homeschool students have their own schedule and can take more time to focus on writing whereas other students must follow a schedule that has been laid out for them. Additionally, homeschool writing curriculum is tailored for homeschool students to help them learn how to actually write quality content such as paragraphs and papers, not just regurgitate concepts for a test.
Writing is influenced by reading, and homeschool students often read more.
One of the biggest influences on a student’s writing is how much they read—and again, homeschool students have the advantage here because they can devote more time to reading than the average non-homeschooled student.
I was homeschooled for most of my life, and to me, one of the best parts of being homeschooled was how much I was able to read or listen to my mom read. When I was older, I even had a timeslot in my day devoted to reading for fun. Not every student loves to read, but for those who do, the books they consume are influencing their writing—even if they don’t realize it.
Writing is a big part of homeschool curriculum.
Because homeschool curriculum is generally geared toward the individual rather than an entire classroom, it tends to include activities that utilize writing—personal responses, workbooks, special projects, and more. A classroom setting, in a public or private school, relies more on verbal responses from students, but homeschool students are usually working by themselves and therefore provide their responses in written rather than verbal form.
The ability to write well is one that becomes less common with each passing year, but your homeschool student has several built-in advantages that enable them to write better than the average student, even if they don’t realize it. Focus on these advantages, and build on them in your homeschooling program. We may live in the Age of Show Business, but writing is still around—and so are homeschool students who do it well.
Essentials in Writing