Writing, speaking skills help prevent re-inventing the wheel

This opinion column appears in the Southern Sentinel. Give your opinion below with a comment. I was glad to see Blue Mountain School recently offer their students the chance to take part in a speech contest sponsored by Modern Woodmen of America. The school has also held writing contests for its students in years past. Developing writing and speaking skills are vitally important for students. The more students can improve those abilities, the better off the youngsters – and society as a whole — will be. Youngsters who can speak and write clearly can think clearly. They can communicate. They grow up to be adults who can communicate. And communication is what helps move people, and generations, forward. Communication, in the form of knowledge passed down from one generation to the next, is what prevents each generation from having to reinvent the wheel, rediscover fire. Communication lets people and generations build on what has gone before, break new ground, break into blue sky. Along a related line, I was glad to see the Ripley Arts Council stage its season-opening play here earlier this month. . Plays also involve the requirement of speaking only clearly, but loudly, and doing so in front of a group of strangers more commonly known as an audience. The traits of being able to speak clearly, loudly enough to be heard clear to the back row, and to be able to do that in front of a group are very valuable traits to have throughout life. They’re also traits which need considerable development. To prove this, simply listen to anyone – from the town gossip to the sermonizing preacher in church Sunday morning – who ever gave a speech and who just didn’t know when to quit. As one wag once put it, a speech is like a love affair: Any fool can start it, but to end it requires considerable skill. In theatre, you need three things The play, the actors, and the audience. Each must give something to make the play a success. When all those elements are out of synch, the result is the sort of play about which Groucho Marx once remarked: ”I didn’t like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions – the curtain was up.” On more serious note, speaking and writing skills are crucially important. I’m glad schools and live theater here are giving people the opportunity to develop them.

Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel