R.I.P. Formal Writing

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Let’s consider that we are seeing a natural movement towards a society in which language is more oral—or in the case of texting, oral-style—where written prose occupies a much smaller space than it used to.

As such—might we stop pretending that ordinary people need to be able to write on a level higher than functional?

At The Daily Beast, John McWhorter has a radical proposition: stop teaching people to write well. Teach them to speak well instead.


Claire Burgess’s short fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Hunger Mountain, and PANK online, among others. Her stories have received special mentions in the Pushcart Prize and Best American anthologies, but haven’t actually made it into one yet. She’s a graduate of the Vanderbilt University MFA program, where she co-founded Nashville Review. She lives in Pittsburgh by way of the deep South and says things on Twitter @Clairabou_. More from this author →