Why does writing matter? Part 2

Teach kids that writing matters for many future jobs and careers!

By Daniella Dautrich

PARENTS know that writing matters. It allows our children to form ideas, cement their knowledge, and spread their thoughts to others. Still, your kids might wonder if they’ll ever really use writing in their future professions. If so, encourage them that writing is important to many careers. Specifically, help them think about these four fascinating jobs that require communication through the written word!

The Mad Scientist

Students who love math and science are inclined to argue that writing isn’t important. But if one of your kids pursues computer science, chemistry, psychology, or another related field, his research will only be as valuable as his communication skills. There’s no point to scientific inquiry if you never share your work with others. This is why grad students hope to get their papers published in academic journals or conferences.

Academic papers require a broad range of writing skills, including a mastery of vocabulary, the ability to summarize main points for abstracts and related work sections, and an understanding of logical organization.

For a research scientist, writing doesn’t end with a PhD dissertation. More papers—and most likely a grant proposal here and there—are what it takes to share scholarly ideas, experiments, and results with our ever-changing world. 

Passing the Bar

Has one of your children dreamed of becoming a lawyer or legal assistant? It’s not too early to teach the skills she’ll need for technical legal writing. Reinforce her knowledge of grammar and punctuation on a regular basis. Help her identify and fix sentence fragments or dangling modifiers in her own writing and the writing of others.

Legal writing takes many forms, from preparing contracts and wills to writing persuasive briefs for court cases. Ideally, these documents are written with clarity and directness.

Of course, the legal profession involves plenty of archaic words and Latin phrases. Prepare your daughter now by instilling a sense of familiarity with these strange, confusing terms. Read aloud from a variety of old books and play memory games to learn Latin roots.

Just the Facts, Sir

When your sons hear “cops and robbers,” they probably imagine police officers with sirens, pistols, and shiny badges. Did they know that police jobs can also include writing? Full-time officers respond to many incidents throughout their shift, and they often end the day by writing police reports.

A police report describes the who, what, where, when, and how of a crime for supervisors and jury members. These narratives should be clear, detailed, and organized. Once the officer has gathered information from victims and witnesses, examined physical evidence, and possibly made an arrest, he must write it all down.

If your students desire careers in law enforcement, help them practice telling stories in chronological order. Encourage them to write with distinct paragraphs for the beginning, middle, and end. Always push them to write in the active, not passive, voice! (“The truck driver swerved and hit the telephone pole” is much more informative than “The telephone pole was hit by a vehicle.”)

The Sales Pitch

Careers in marketing and advertising come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional 9-5 jobs to freelance work-from-home positions. What do these roles share in common? Strong writing skills!

If your daughter is someday hired to develop radio commercial scripts or magazine print ads, she will need to engage her audience with witty, fresh, and memorable writing. No room for dull or vague words here!

Perhaps she’ll work on website development for a clothing company or restaurant chain. Sensory, descriptive writing is often the key that converts clicks into sales! From company slogans to “back-cover copy” (the blurb on the back of a book), writing skills can transform simple products into golden eggs for both employers and employees.

I’m sure you can think of even more real-world jobs that require strong writing skills. Discuss these with your kids over lunch or dinner. We’d love to hear what you come up with!

Photo: Leonid Mamchenkov, courtesy of Creative Commons
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