One of my former students posted this quote from Carl Jung on Facebook today and it perfectly sums up one of the most important benefits of strong writing skills. Self-expression is life blood for humans. So strong is this instinct that we see it in youth who desperately strive to convey their feelings and personality through other means. Teens will pierce and tattoo their bodies, dye their hair, choose clothing that conveys a disturbing subtext, and take up unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and doing drugs, all because they have no substantive outlet for their thoughts and feelings. They don't feel heard, so they shout themselves silly through the easiest method they can find, a method that requires little effort or serious thought. Of course, conveying meaning through appearance is hardly uncommon in a world so visually addicted. We judge on appearance, but I don't think "dressing" ourselves this way is nearly as effective a means of communicating as thoughtful writing. Parents, teach your kids to write!