A little explanatory anecdote: I was talking to my sister yesterday. She’s starting a web-based company and is busy getting it set up. She has hired a number of photographers and copywriters for her company. The catch, however, is that the photographers, who are mostly self-taught, are getting paid $200(US) an hour, but the copy-writers, who have degrees from top universities and write really well, get paid only $12 to $15 (US) per hour. The photographers are in big demand; they’re harder to find. The copywriters, on the other hand, are a dime-a-dozen. She got 10 responses to her ad for copywriters on Craiglist within the first hour. It’s the images that count in today’s world. The words are peripheral, and no-one really values them anymore.
Does written language count at all in a world dominated by visual imagery and technology? Am I wasting my time trying to teach students to write well and to analyze the effects of words and literary devices? Wouldn’t they be better off in a photography course? I think English teachers are going to be like Latin or Sanskrit teachers soon – an interesting bunch of people, who teach a largely useless subject. Of course, to counter this, the school I work at is trying very hard to introduce more media-related elements to our English courses. We’ve got to incorporate technology into all our lessons and have our kids analyze movies and images instead of just books. What happens then, to teachers like me, who just absolutely love books?