- Are the 3 r’s,”reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic” the basics of what one needs to know?
For many years, educators have emphasized “the 3 r’s” as the cornerstone of skills students must have for academic success. While these remain critical skills, the fourth part of the cornerstone has rarely been given appropriate focus but remains essential for students and later in adulthood. Speaking, the other half of reading/writing, remains a neglected skill in education — but has major significance for students and adults.
Acquiring the ability to find words to express oneself, string them together in phrases and sentences, and articulate these complex sounds with the standard production within one’s spoken language is a process we take for granted. Only when the process becomes disrupted do we question what is truly a miraculous feature of the human brain and nervous system.
When children have difficulty with developing speech and language — for a variety of reasons — we may come to understand how unique speaking is among all the living species. So too, only when an adult has an injury or illness that disrupts the normal process of speech and language do we come to realize that these are skills usually taken for granted.
- What about healthy, educated adults who find expressing themselves difficult?
To those individuals who have difficulty speaking — especially where they’re being judged or evaluated — it may appear that everyone else speaks fluently and easily. This isn’t the reality, however. More people have difficulty expressing their thoughts in formal settings than they will admit. Adding to the pressure to speak well, the contexts for speaking/presenting occur more frequently as one progresses up the professional ladder.
- Do poor speaking and/or writing skills make a difference in a world where technical knowledge remains most important?
In my practice I have worked with educated, intelligent individuals who need to express their ideas to clients and present their work in public forums. Even further, they need to create reports and written documents to summarize and illustrate their expertise.
The critical abilities for organizing information and presenting in front of other professionals in a variety of contexts becomes a stumbling block for many people seeking professional development. The link between the organization of material — focusing on key features (critical for any presentation) — and making a strong verbal presentation involves both writing and speaking skills.
- Even in our technologically-oriented world, the twin verbal skills of speaking and writing remain critical life skills.
It seems clear that in the 21st century, the “3’r’s” need to be modified to the cornerstone of “3 plus 1”: “reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and speaking.” Technology has become an important tool for information management and presentation, but the spoken/written word remains essential.
Check back soon for more articles on public speaking, writing, speech pathology and executive function skills.