As a writing instructor, I have the honor of listening to students complain about learning to write according to a system of formal essay requirements and language expectations. Most of their reactions are expressed in terms that suggest writing is a foreign structure of communication, and seem to have a difficult time in processing the information found in college-level text, yet they process and interpret images found in ads, made for TV movies, and video's accurately and efficiently.
In discussing this phenomenon with other teachers, the subject of brain evolution came up, and I began to wonder if the preference to process imagery rather than text would indicate an evolution of the brain in process at this particular point in our development, and in direct response to our increasingly visually oriented society.
We prize an authentic textual voice created in the "unconscious," but we also prize the appropriate use of formal language structure. Herein lies the dilemma. If students are not comfortable on a "gut-level" with language structures, how can they develop an authentic "voice?" How does the evolution of the brain affect their ability to acquire these linguistic structures?
If brain evolution is occuring now, as studies suggest, then we must consider new ways to translate written language systems into a system of signs that students can understand and use.
I would greatly appreciate responses to this problem because I would like to be a more efficient writing instructor, and this goal entails creative pedogogical techniques.