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The power of writing

Posted June. 06, 2017 06:59,   

Updated June. 06, 2017 07:03


British neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933~2015) left a note at the end of his life which read, “I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” His note leaves much resonance. Sacks who wrote the book titled ‘The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" and others was called as a poet laureate of contemporary medicine. American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, is also famous for his bestselling books. Feynman was able to reach the public beyond the science with his writings.

Although they are gifted with literary ability, they also got the benefit of college education in English and American, which focuses on improving writing skills regardless of major. It was 1872 when Harvard began to provide a mandatory program for freshman. Nancy Sommers, who led the Harvard College Writing Program for twenty years, said recently in an interview that to be truly professional in a field, one must improve his or her writing skills. It means that writing is the key for the future competitiveness whichever area one enters into.

A student’s guide to writing in the Biological Sciences of Harvard University said, the keeping of laboratory notebook, the writing of a research proposal, and telling a story as a research paper, all should not be missed in a scientific thinking. What about Korea? It was only two weeks ago when Seoul National University decided to establish a writing support center. The result of assessment test in writing of 253 freshmen was devastating. One in three students scored below 70 and the writing skill of 65 students were poor insufficient to take the regular writing course.

Written communication skills via texts and e-mails by using mobile phones are enhanced each day. However, it appears that the ability to deliver meanings by writing long sentences, not a short text, is deteriorated over time in Korea. We need to exercise to raise muscles in our body. Likewise, the best way to raise muscles in our thought is to write. Writing and thinking ability act as two wheels of a bicycle. Reading newspaper every day helps to enhance the ability to think. Professor Sommers gives an advice to write everyday even short ones. Expressing one’s thinking in writing is a great privilege and adventure at the same time.