Re: Communication skills

When I began my teaching career in the late ’60s, I wondered about the effects of divorce on student achievement. After just two or three months of classroom discussion and reading the students’ essays, I was able to witness a subtle change in certain students concerning creative and imaginative skills when compared to the others. I was actually able to pick out (without checking their records) the two or three teens who had been victims of divorce. These students had their family foundations shattered, and had much difficulty thinking

outside the box.

Psychologists in the ’70s and ’80s studying the effects of divorce on children corroborated this phenomenon, even going so far as to say that there is as much as a 10 percent drop in a child’s I.Q. when parents divorce. The results of this research were quickly hushed and dropped, especially as divorce increased.

My sister, Barb, who has worked as a middle-school social worker in suburban Chicago, has also noted an unfortunate change in the thinking skills of the students. She believes that cell phones are the culprits—all this twittering, instant messaging and texting doesn’t really challenge the mind. It used to be that when two students were marched into her office because of quarreling or fighting, she would sit them down facing each other. Asking them to vocalize the cause of  their altercation and requiring them to work on a solution usually left the pre-teens satisfied, even if not too happy. Nowadays, when two pre-teens are sent to her office and are told to sit down, face one another and talk, they CANNOT. Face-to-face communication is too challenging. Using the Internet is actually pseudo communication.

A local columnist has stated that she has more than 100

that she e-mails. In a medium where one can assume any kind of false face to acquire the response one desires, this cannot be called genuine friendship. I wonder how often she sends the same message to many

This is insulting. As author Amy Tan has written,
E-mailing is just so much pond scum off the top of one’s head.

Where will our future deep and original thinking come from?

Alice Kaczmarek


From the September 30 – October 6, 2009 issue.

One thought on “Re: Communication skills

  • Oct 3, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Alice Kaczmarek is to be thanked for her thoughtful and meaningful letter about the effects of divorce on children. In our age, when a reality is disturbing, we like to “shine a new light on it” or just ignore it altogether. There are such pressures on married couples, with both spouses needing to work, divorce trends are no surprise. The June Cleaver Leave it to Beaver)situation of the fifties, though idealized, was far more conducive to happy family life, and secure childhoods. I know I will be attacked for saying so.

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