Thursday, April 28, 2016

Schooling Your Audience

Stanley Fish makes it quite clear how our lower education has failed to prepare us for college level writing in his article "What Should Colleges Teach?". He stresses how most students with an exception of some cathedral students lack knowledge in writing in the simplest ways. He blames the youth of todays society for having little to no interest in reading, middle school, and high school education for not teaching writing in an effective manner. Fish even questions if they even teach writing. He then explains how he teaches his college students how to form simple sentences because he believes we cannot even do, which I even find to be a little insulting. Although Fish makes a good argument that I do agree with but I believe that teaching about audience is just as important and significant when teaching about what sentences are and how to form them.
That "AHHH" moment (the audience agrees).

Knowing how to form simple sentences is important but that is only the foundation of writing. There is a whole lot more to it. One can know how to write simple sentences correctly but who are you writing to? How will you know how to form and word sentences not knowing how to write to your targeted reader? Audience is just as important if not more when it comes to writing. There is usually always a purpose to any persons writing. According to the Purdue OWL  an author's purpose maybe to inform or persuade, "Authors conscientiously create texts for Specific audiences." Knowing about audience and how to write to your audience can affect something as small and important as words so this is essential when writing sentences in general. Writing is basically centered around your targeted audience when writing there are many things things you need to keep in mind. One thing to keep in mind is the language you are using because your audience needs to comprehend your writing (That's the whole point!)

Another thing to keep in mind is who your audience is. Is your audience someone you know personally or professionally? Is your audience one person or a group of people? This is another factor that will affect the language you decide to use when writing. Your tone changes depending on who you are speaking to but in this case, writing to. Tone comes through word choice the author decides to use. For example, If you were writing a persuasive letter about how you thought the color periwinkle wasn't purple you would use persuasive language to persuade your audience.
Tone can change literally and figuratively!

Here is another question to get you thinking: Do you and your audience share the same ideas, views, and/or knowledge? If you can answer these questions you should give yourself a pat on the back for knowing your audience. This is crucial because your shared convictions and knowledge with your audience can alter your writing. The wise, brusque, Dr. Paul McCormick once told me; “The goal is use the old knowledge as scaffolding or a foundation for the new knowledge.It's kind of like teaching: move quickly from what your audience knows to what they do not, but use the former (that is, what they know) as a bridge to the latter (that is, what they do not know)” This causes you to change what you write according to your audience. It forces you to be familiar with your audience, assume what their past knowledge was, and inform them with new knowledge.
You don't want to bore your audience!

There are many other ways audience can change and alter your writing not only through tone and knowledge. This is why I argue that audience is important to teach about in college-level courses no matter the deficit some college students may have when it comes to writing.Words and language make up sentences and your audience is what determines them Stanley Fish!

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