No Marshmallows, Just Term Papers
A lot of folks are very worried about the impact of teenagers texting. In a Daily Mail article (oh! the shame), John Humphrys expressed the view that "SMS vandals... are doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours" and goes on to warn of the danger of "our written language [ending up] as a series of ridiculous emoticons and ever-changing abbreviations". Sounds pretty dreadful, doesn't it?
For as long as there have been mobile phones, it has been the job of schools and teachers to confiscate 'em. The standard approach seems to be blanket bans in classrooms and a grudging tolerance for them being kept switched off and out of sight at the bottom of bags. Fortunately, my school is one that has sought to harness the power of mobiles in a productive way.
English teachers will be aware that the new GCSE English Language specifications include a requirement for student to write about spoken language and intriguingly, one of AQA's controlled assessment topics is the option to examine how the language of text messages, Twitter and chat rooms relates to the way we speak. The assessment task students would have to answer is: What devices do people use to maintain brevity when messaging/texting? How does this relate to the way we speak?
As a faculty, we seized on this as being the topic most likely to engage and enthuse our students. And it did. Here was an opportunity for them to demonstrate their superior knowledge of a medium they have made their own. I have to confess to having had a fairly old fashioned approach to text messaging; going to some trouble to ensure texts were properly punctuated and correctly spelt.