George Orwell, the author of Animal Farm and 1984 and other books, essays, etc., was a renowned author and journalist. In his essay “Politics and the English Language” Orwell gives “the most famous modern argument for a clear, unadorned writing style”. He addresses the problems in modern writing and how they can be corrected.
“Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.”
Many of us want to improve our writing, but are we willing to engage our minds in communicating our topic clearly? Be diligent in ensuring that the reader understands everything that you want to communicate. When the writer becomes indifferent to what he writes the meaning is lost.
After reading the essay I realized that I make that mistake all the time! I often tend to write just to fill the space, not considering the reader or thinking through what I want to communicate. If I take Orwell’s approach to writing I am sure that my writing will improve.
Become the writer that you want to be. Think carefully about what you want to communicate to the reader and present it in a clear and concise manner. Orwell suggests “using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one’s meaning” and to let “the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about”. Take time to think of the reader’s understanding and your writing will improve. Serve your reader.
Do we take our freedom for granted? Are we unappreciative of the education that we have? These two questions presented themselves after reading an excerpt from Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
In Douglass’s time most slaves perceived freedom as an unattainable goal. Many slaves only knew captivity; they knew very little of freedom and human rights. Those who were fortunate enough to get a taste of freedom, suffered greater, knowing that hope was just out of reach. Why was an educated slave such a risk to the owner? Their knowledge concerning freedom would spur them on to unite and overpower their master or run away. This censoring of the human mind is a tragedy in the history of the United States.
Today people enjoy so many “rights” that it’s difficult to even imagine what it was like for the slaves who lived without them. Think of the slave, who didn’t even know he could have rights. Do we take our freedoms and rights for granted? Thank God for the plethora of rights that we have today.
Douglass put education above everything, even in the toughest of situations, he managed to learn how to read and write. He continued his education, by procuring books, learning from the educated, and writing on an old copy-book. He equated his knowledge with his freedom which spurred him on to try to earn his freedom by learning everything that he possibly could.
In modern society, do we take our education for granted? Anti-intellectualism in the Christian mind and in the minds of the modern public is rampant. Why do we neglect the great opportunities that are before us? A major reason for the current apathy for learning is laziness. The standards for today’s youth have decreased tremendously in the last ten years, not because they are unable to learn as much, but because they are lazy.
Lowering the standards for students can also affect teaching methods. Many teachers don’t instill a love for learning, and students quickly lose interest. Research has shown that teachers who incorporate interactive teaching methods into lectures can dramatically increase the interest and desire to learn in students.
Let’s learn from Douglass, by reversing the feeling of apathy towards education and raising the standards for today’s youth. Learn all you can, because you can.