“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to
believe and take for granted; nor to find
talk and discourse; but to weigh and
consider. Some books are to be tasted,
others to be swallowed, and some few to be
chewed and digested….”
"If you cannot write well, you cannot think
well, and if you cannot think well, others
will do your thinking for you."
A strong command of the language arts (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) is vital for being a successful student and ultimately a productive member of the 21st century workforce. Language skills have always been fundamental for academic and professional success. However, students in the 21st century are now facing more complex challenges in an ever-changing global society. These challenges have created the need for rigorous state standards in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Literacy – meaning the ability to construe a written, linguistic, alphabetic symbol system – is arguably the most important skill students acquire in preschool through twelfth-grade education because it makes all other forms of higher-order learning, critical thinking, and communication possible.
The study of reading, writing, and communicating is therefore essential to all other study in early childhood education, primary school, and secondary school. Such study comprises not only the fundamental knowledge and skills of language arts (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), but also the knowledge and skills of discourse (dialogue and discussion) and rhetoric (the ability to make arguments and to think critically about arguments made by others) and the knowledge and skills involved in responding to imaginative literature.
Language skills are necessary for academic success in all disciplines. The ability to integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening effectively builds understanding across all academic subjects as well as allowing for the development of 21st century skills within the context of these subjects. Critical thinking and reasoning, information literacy, collaboration, self-direction, and innovation are vital 21st century skills.
Standards for reading, writing, and communicating in all grades must be clear and rigorous so that our public educational system gives students the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce, to be well-informed and responsible citizens, and to lead more fulfilling personal lives.